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2628 Tue 22 May LESSON Awakened One With Awareness Buddha’s Teachings in 4 Words Do Good Be Mindful ! There is a terrific free tool out there — the Digital Pali Reader (SourceForge has a copy) — that has the entire canon in Pali. Load it up, load up a sutta, click on a word, and it will offer definitions and a tiny little “c” near the word will provide conjugations. I recommend this more than I can express. If you really want to dig into the Tipitaka, there is no better way than comparing translations, and checking out the various meanings of the words you question in the Pali. Introduction to SuttaCentral The Buddha’s words Where to begin Tipiṭaka—the three baskets Monastic Law Abhidhamma Why we read: tell us why you read suttas SuttaCentral—a new beginning Index of Subjects
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2628 Tue 22  May  LESSON

Awakened One With Awareness Buddha’s Teachings in 4 Words
Do Good Be Mindful !

There is a terrific free tool out
there — the Digital Pali Reader (SourceForge has a copy) — that has the
entire canon in Pali. Load it up, load up a sutta, click on a word, and
it will offer definitions and a tiny little “c” near the word will
provide conjugations. I recommend this more than I can express. If you
really want to dig into the Tipitaka, there is no better way than
comparing translations, and checking out the various meanings of the
words you question in the Pali.

Introduction to SuttaCentral
The Buddha’s words

Where to begin

Tipiṭaka—the three baskets

Monastic Law


Why we read: tell us why you read suttas

SuttaCentral—a new beginning

Index of Subjects

in 23) Classical English,
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Anguttara Nikaya

5 nikayas
Digha Nikaya
Majjhima Nikaya
Samyutta Nikaya
Anguttara Nikaya

To get an overview of what the Buddha
taught. Many of the lessons in the Tipitaka overlap between nikayas,
and a general understanding of Buddhism can be obtained by purchasing
just one of these books, or by getting an anthology like In the Buddha’s
Words by Bhikkhu Bodhi.

In the Buddha’s Words is, arguably, the
best anthology of the Tipitaka available. It features lucid translations
of the most important suttas needed for awakenment.

Read a nikaya from beginning
to end, with only some of the repetitions removed,
The Majjhima Nikaya

It’s the most balanced of the 5
The suttas aren’t too short or too long, and most of the
Buddha’s principal teachings on loving-kindness, meditation, and nibanna
can be found here. The online audio series A Systematic Study of the
Majjhima Nikaya compliments

But be warned:
Nikayas aren’t easy to get through. If you’re new to the Tipitaka, I
suggest purchasing an anthology first, or reading through the suttas
that are freely available on Access to Insight.

There are three baskets, and a great deal has been translated into English.

If you start with the suttas — when you get through all of those , the
second basket is the monastic code (the Vinaya) and it is already fully
translated into English, so you can work through that. Then at least the
major works of the third basket, the commentaries, have also been
translated so you can work on those. If you still want all the rest,
you’ll be well-prepared to translate them yourself. But I suspect you’ll
find most of what you need within the suttas.

There is a terrific free tool out
there — the Digital Pali Reader (SourceForge has a copy) — that has the
entire canon in Pali. Load it up, load up a sutta, click on a word, and
it will offer definitions and a tiny little “c” near the word will
provide conjugations. I recommend this more than I can express. If you
really want to dig into the Tipitaka, there is no better way than
comparing translations, and checking out the various meanings of the
words you question in the Pali.

One thing about the use of
language in the Buddha’s time (maybe it is even still true in India) is
that his culture accepted that any single word could have many meanings
and rather than doing as we do and confining meaning to one — saying
“but I only meant definition #3” — they tend to work with all the
meanings simultaneously. It provides quite a workout for the mind! This
is why looking up the words provides a richness you’ll never get from
reading translations.

Pali Canon is huge. And since it’s a language which has not been in
active use for centuries it’s hard to determine the exact meaning of
some words. The interest of western academics in the Pali Canon is
relatively recent and does not date some 2000 years back to the times of
the much more investigated Greek scriptures. There are some places, 

being one of them, which cover many suttas.

This is a common view from people coming from a background where belief
in a holy book is a huge part of the belief system. When you get a
little knowledgeable about the Buddhist suttas you find that Gautama
Buddha very often referred to common knowledge and the natural way of
things. Since we are born we are subject to illness, ageing, old age and
death. That’s something we can all observe in our life.
Or he would
point to a fire and ask: where does the flame go when it goes out? Does
it go west, east, south, north? Or maybe up or down? With such a
statement he would indicate that a question with the wrong formulation
would not give the desired answer.

If you get to know Buddhist
culture and background you will find that there is not a single person
claiming enlightenment based only on reading the Pali Canon. Sometimes
insight might rise while reading in it, yet the core of Buddhism is
practice, doing. And this is a frequently recurring theme in the suttas.
We see Gautama Buddha stressing time after time to stop certain
lifestyles, to cultivate other lifestyles, to stop bad behaviour, to
start good behaviour. And once doing this results in a less stressful
life, he would provide basic instructions into meditation.

this meditation, often thought to be meditation on the breath, is
something which is less explained in the suttas. This is not because
it’s very obvious, it’s because there are several ways of meditating and
each has different benefits. The core meditation is body contemplation,
the instructions given to monks who are send of on their own: hair on
the head, hair on the body, teeth, nails and skin. Yet unfortunate
events showed that not all monks could handle the mental pressure that’s
involved in such meditation and to counter the disturbance it caused
instructions on meditation on the breath were given because of it’s
calming effects.

In the end, all knowledge you need to acquire is
already inside you, in this body, in this mind, in the thoughts that
rise, in the feelings that keep appearing. It’s the same story over and
over: something starts and with that the process of ending starts. When
we breath in, we cannot breath out at the same time. The start of one
means that the other one has to end. And when we breath in, we know we
have to breath out at a certain point. Without the process of breathing
in followed by breathing out, over and over, we cannot survive. And we
can find this process all over in our body and mind.

The Pali Canon does not provide the answer, the answer is found in
practice and focus on the components of self. And you carry these along
your entire life.
The ‘opinion’ of the Buddha is not important, one
of his close followers remarks in a sutta when asked about his viewpoint
that he knows that viewpoints are stressful and that this knowledge is
sufficient for him. We find something similar with certain teachings,
one person asking questions is not answered, another asking a slightly
different question receives a detailed explanation. The skill and
knowledge of the questioner is taken into consideration while answering.

Decades ago I learned something that’s still of great value to me: you
cannot trust a single translation of ‘holy scriptures’. Either you learn
the language yourself and dig in (I did that with biblical greek) or
you take several translations which will show you the similarities and
differences in the translation of the word, indicating that on some
words there is agreement and on other there is none. It will also show
you a bit of the dogmatic interpretations of some translators. Being
bi-langual is an even greater advantage, you can read the interpretation
in two languages which might reveal nuances not present in a single
Doing this with the Pali Canon is almost madness. Remember, it’s huge.
But it’s not needed. Take one or two suttas, get to understand them in
any way and see if they point to the body or mind. If so, the sutta can
be used as a guide in practice, which has the highest priority.

As last remark: there is a firefox (browser) plugin that offers the Pali
canon with a huge dictionary. You’d have to translate yourself, yet
it’s one of the closest ways you can get to the actual words in the Pali
Canon. Yet without understanding context on living conditions and
religious beliefs some 2500 years ago in Nepal and India you are bound
to make mistakes on interpretation.

Western culture’s interest in the Pali canon only goes back to the late
19th century. Recall that it took hundreds of years for the transmission
of Buddhism into China; consider Xuanzang’s efforts at translation - it
took him the rest of his life and continued on with his disciples. Good
translation requires a rare combination of rigorous scholarship, strong
grasp of Pali, ability to write well in English, and time.

Consider the size of of the Tipitaka - several bookshelves!!! Consider
the obstacles in publishing something that, especially before computers.

Less interested
in the Vinaya (rules for monastics) or the Abidharma (commentaries).
That leaves the Suttas (sutra). Various sutras, including multiple
English translations of the same text in Pali, are on Access to Insight.
For published books, I’d go with works by @Bhikkhu Bodhi.

to start? I highly recommend Bhikkhu Bodhi’s anthology In the Buddha’s
Words, and then choose a translation of the Dhammapada. Once you’ve got a
good grasp on Buddhist concepts and terminology, get Bhikkhu Bodhi’s
other translations (with his associated lectures available online as
audio or video) or get another anthology, Handful of Leaves by
Thannisaro Bhikkhu.

So in this
case, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by
scripture, by logical deduction, by inference, by analogies, by
agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought,
‘This contemplative is our teacher.’

- from Kalama Sutta: To the Kalamas, with translator’s associated essay at…/thani…/lostinquotation.html

First, if you are really seriously concerned with the quality of the
translations, you should learn Pali.

Seriously, without
the necessary cultural and historical context, it is a fool’s errand to
think you can interpret the Pali Canon on your own.

living well, day to day, according to Buddhism, does not require
intimate knowledge of the Tipitaka. Follow the first five precepts, and
obey Jesus’ second commandment (Love your neighbor as yourself.), and
you are covered from a behavioral standpoint.

All the rest isn’t
anything more than a dry intellectual exercise unless you meditate. And
there are online and remote resources available for training in

There is a lot of repetition in the Pali
Canon. By the time you have exhausted the parts of the Canon that have
already been translated, if you are still into it, I expect you will be
good and ready to learn Pali for yourself.
It’s as simple as reading everything you can find. Apply analytical meditation and debate. Decide for yourself.

Early Buddhist texts, translations, and parallels
The wisdom of the Buddha has been preserved in a vast ocean of ancient texts.
Many of these scriptures have now been translated into the world’s languages.

SuttaCentral brings these together and makes them freely available.
Setting aside the boundaries of language and tradition, we let the Buddha speak for himself.
The Buddha’s words
If you know you’re a fool, you’re wise at least to that extent.
A disciplined mind brings happiness.
All conditions are impermanent.
Be my heirs in spiritual things, not heirs of material things
You are the ones who must do the work; the Buddhas only point the way
I shall strive to let go of all attachments.
I do not see a single thing that’s as quick to change as the mind
Ever mindful, see the world as empty. Then the King of Death won’t find you.
May all beings be happy!
Though a man might conquer a million enemies in battle, the supreme victor is the one who conquers himself.

Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom
Dhammapada Dhp
Dhp 1

The Pali version of this famous text, consisting of 423 verses
organized into memorable themes. It is the most widely read of the early
texts, and has been translated many times into many languages. Versions
of this text are found in Chinese, Tibetan, and several Indic
languages, attesting to its timeless, universal appeal.

Niraya Vagga
Dhp 306–319
Nāga Vagga
Dhp 320–333
Taṇhā Vagga
Dhp 334–359
Bhikkhu Vagga
Dhp 360–382
Brāhmaṇa Vagga
Dhp 383–423
Magga Vagga
Dhp 273–289
Pakiṇṇaka Vagga
Dhp 290–305

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…

What’s here
SuttaCentral contains early Buddhist texts, known as the Tipiṭaka or
“Three Baskets”. This is a large collection of teachings attributed to
the Buddha or his earliest disciples, who were teaching in India around
2500 years ago. They are regarded as sacred canon in all schools of
Buddhism. You can find all of our texts through the sidebar menu on the

Introduction to SuttaCentral
The Buddha’s words

SuttaCentral contains early Buddhist texts, known as the Tipiṭaka or
“Three Baskets”. This is a large collection of teachings attributed to
the Buddha or his earliest disciples, who were teaching in India around
2500 years ago. They are regarded as sacred canon in all schools of

There are several Buddhist traditions, and each has
passed down a set of scriptures from ancient times. SuttaCentral is
specially focused on the scriptures of the earliest period of Buddhism,
and hosts texts in over thirty languages. We believe this is the largest
collection of early Buddhist texts ever made.

SuttaCentral hosts
the texts in orginal languages, translations in modern languages, and
extensive sets of parallels that show the relationship between them all.
Cover and binding to a Burmese manuscript on the Life of Buddha in red
tooled leather with text in gold letters. Burma, late 19th century.

What are these texts about? The Buddha’s overriding concern was with
freedom from suffering. The teachings cover a wide range of topics,
including ethics, meditation, family life, renunciation, the nature of
wisdom and true understanding, and the path to peace.

teachings show how to live well so as to be free of suffering. They
teach non-violence and compassion, and emphasize the value of the
spiritual over the material. Many discourses discuss meditation, while
others are concerned with ethics, or with a rational and clear
understanding of the world as perceived. They show the Buddha engaging
with people from all walks of life and discussing a diverse range of
topics. But he said that all of his words have one taste, the taste of

While there are plenty of summaries and interpretations
of his teaching, there’s nothing quite like encountering it in his own
words. The early texts depict the Buddha in a vivid and diverse range of
contexts, speaking with monastics, ascetics, criminals, kings,
businessmen, lepers, prostitutes, paupers, wives, skeptics, friends, and
enemies. It’s not just what he says, but the way he deals with this
spectrum of humanity, always with kindness, clarity, dignity, and

Fragment of Gandhari manuscript on birch
bark, acquired by University of Washington. Afghanistan, circa 1st or
2nd century CE. Buddhist texts are traditionally classified as the
“Three Baskets”, spelled tipiṭaka in Pali or tripiṭaka in Sanskrit.
These are:

Discourses: Sutta in Pali, sūtra in Sanskrit.
These are the primary texts, consisting of records of teachings or
conversations by the Buddha or his disciples, and arranged by litarary
style or subject matter.
Monastic Law: Vinaya in both Pali and
Sanskrit. These contain the famous list of rules for monks and nuns
(pātimokkha). But they are much more than that, including many details
of community life, and a multitude of stories about life in ancient
Abhidhamma: Spelled abhidharma in Sanskrit. Abhidhamma
texts are systematic summaries and analyses of the teachings drawn from
the earlier discourses.

Each Buddhist tradition has passed down
separate collections for well over a thousand years. Yet when we look at
the Discourses and the Monastic Law, in all major features, and many
minor details, they are similar or identical. Since the 19th century, a
series of scholars have noted these correspondences and compiled them.

Most of the early texts have been digitized. For the history of this
process, see the article Digital Input of Buddhist Texts by Lewis
Lancaster in the Encyclopedia of Buddhism. In addition, translations
have been produced in multiple languages, mostly focusing on the
better-known texts of the Pali discourses.

SuttaCentral draws on this long history to present three main kinds of content.

Original texts: SuttaCentral presents the original texts in the original languages, including:
The Pali canon (or Tipiṭaka) of the Theravāda school. Our text
is the Mahāsaṅgīti edition of the Sixth Council recension.
The early Āgama and Vinaya texts from the Taishō edition of the Chinese canon. For our digital source we rely on CBETA.
A much smaller range of early texts from the Tibetan Kangyur.
Such fragments and chance findings as are available in Sanskrit, Gandhārī, and other Indic languages.
Translations: We have gathered translations of early texts in over
thirty modern languages. Notable English translations include classic
works by Bhikkhu Bodhi, new English translations of Chinese Saṁyukta
Āgama texts by Bhikkhu Anālayo, and fresh translations from the Tibetan
Upāyikā by Bhikkhuni Dhammadinnā. In addition, we are developing our own
sets of new translations, in the belief that complete, accurate, and
easy to read modern translations should be freely available for
everyone. We have published an entirely new translation of the four Pali
nikāyas by Bhikkhu Sujato, which is the first complete and consistent
English translation of these core texts. And Bhikkhu Brahmāli is
producing a much-needed modern and accurate translation of the Pali
Parallels: The foundation of SuttaCentral is our sets of
parallels. These detail tens of thousands of cases where texts in
different collections or languages correspond with each other. The
existence of these parallels shows the connections between of the
scriptures underlying all Buddhist traditions, a connection that harks
back to the Buddha himself.


representation of relationships for DN 20 Suttas aren’t independent
entities. They form a vast interconnected web of teachings. Often the
key to understanding one passage lies in a different text. In this way,
the Buddhist canons are a little like the internet, with individual
pages connected by a web of hidden links.

Most suttas appear in
very similar form in more than one collection. We use “parallel” for
variant texts that appear to be descended from a common ancestor. Often
the texts are so close that this identification is simple. Sometimes,
however, there is a less close relationship between two given texts. In
such cases we indicate a “resembling parallel”. This doesn’t imply any
particular kind of relationship between the resembling parallel and the
basic text. It simply suggests that if you are studying the basic text,
you might want to look at the resembling parallel, too. For a detailed
discussion, see our page on Methodology.

It is no trivial matter
to discern what texts should be regarded as parallel. Texts often agree
in many details, and disagree in others. When does a text stop being a
full parallel and start being a resembling parallel? And when does it
become merely a text that bears certain similar features? There are no
black and white answers to such questions. Rather, making these
identifications draws on the accumulated learning and experience of a
succession of scholars. Inevitably there will be disagreements in
detail; yet in the main, there is a broad consensus as to what
constitutes a parallel. Ultimately, the important point is that these
identifications help the student to study and learn from related texts
in diverse collections.
Finding Your Way Around

The Buddhist
canons have been organized and maintained as highly structured bodies of
literature, and this complex hierarchy can be intimidating. We’ve tried
to present our material in a way that will be convenient for both
experts and beginners. Let’s review how Buddhist texts are organized.
Then we’ll see how this is implemented in SuttaCentral.
How the Tipiṭaka is organized

We have already mentioned the overarching concept of the Tipiṭaka. Now
let’s look at the sublevels of the structure. For simplicity, we’ll
focus mainly on the Pali canon.

The Pali Discourses
are grouped in five main nikāyas or “divisions”. These are not organized
by content, but by literary form. The first two—Long and Middle—are
organized by length, the Saṁyutta or “Linked” division is organized by
topic, and the Aṅguttara or “Numbered” division is organized by
numerical sets. These four collections are synoptic; they constitute one
largely unified body of text and doctrine, organized mainly for the
convenience of the reciters who memorized it.

The fifth nikāya is
a rather different kind of collection. The core of it is a set of early
texts that are mostly verse. To this was added a series of later texts
of very different kinds, showing that this section was considered more
open and flexible.
Intermediate levels

The Pali texts have a
rather bewildering range of terms for intermediate levels of text
structure, corresponding to what we might call a “part” or a “chapter”.
Sometimes these sections are crucial for making sense of a text. For
example, the saṁyutta is used in the Saṁyutta Nikāya for groups of
discourses on the same topic, and the nipāta is used in the Aṅguttara
Nikāya for groups of discourses with the same number of items. In the
Vinaya, the khandhaka is likewise an essential structural feature.
Elsewhere, however, we find structures of less importance, such as the
pannāsa or group of fifty discourses. Originally these may have helped
organize the texts into manuscripts, but these days they are retained
for historical purposes.

The smallest level of
organization is the vagga, usually translated “chapter” but in fact a
set of (usually) ten discourses or other texts. Vaggas may gather texts
sorted by a meaningful theme. For example, the “Chapter on Kings” of the
Middle Discourses contains ten discussions involving kings. In many
cases, however, the vagga is merely a structural convention, and is
simply named after its first discourse.

The main
navigation is through the sidebar, which is available on every page.
This lists all the collections with their various subdivisions. You can
go directly to a full collection such as a nikāya, or else drill down to
the precise group that you want.

For the four
main nikāyas, we’ve grouped the Chinese Āgamas together with their Pali
parallels. Note that in the Chinese canon, as well as a main full Āgama,
there’s usually some extra material; either individually translated
suttas, or partial collections.

In the “Minor” section, as well
as the eponymous Khuddaka Nikāya in Pali, we include similar material in
Chinese and Sanskrit. These are mostly Dhammapada-style texts.

Under “Other” we include the relatively small quantity of material in
Tibetan, Sanskrit, and other ancient Indic languages. In many cases, it
might be possible to classify this material under one of the five
nikāyas. However, the identification is complex and uncertain, so we
simply leave it here.
Monastic Code

Unlike the Discourses,
for the Vinaya texts we almost always have a clear sectarian
affiliation. We therefore use this as the primary means of

All the Vinayas have a similar structure.

Bhikkhu and Bhikkhunī Vibhaṅga: rules for monks and nuns, together with explanations and commentary.
Khandhakas: This section, named and organized somewhat differently
in the various versions, deals with monastic procedures and lifestyle.
Supplements: Most Vinayas include some kind of supplement or summary, such as the Parivāra in Pali.

The organization and names of these sections vary, and we follow the sequence found in each text.

The relatively few Abhidhamma texts are organized by school and
language. Note that abhidhamma is a generic term, and is applied to many
later treatises as well. Here we only include canonical texts.
Sutta card list

When you click a link in the sidebar, it opens a list of the
corresponding texts, organized as a list of “cards”. Each card contains a
complex of information about the relevant text, including references,
description, and links to texts and translations. Click on the expander
to see the parallels.

A list may be any level of the hierarchy, such as a nikāya, a vagga, etc. You can navigate these at your convenience.
Text pages

You can read the original texts or translations. For original texts, a
variety of helpful tools such as dictionary lookup, text-critical
highlighting, and so on, is available.

We are moving to a new
system based on segmented texts. Not all our texts work this way, but
where they do, you can view the text and translation side by side.

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…
Where to begin
There are thousands of early Buddhist texts, and they’re not organized
for easy reading. But here’s the good news: you are not alone. We’ve
been down this road ourselves, and have tried to make it a little easier
for you. Here are some things you can try.
Getting Started

When it comes to reading suttas, there are as many approaches as there
are readers. The single most helpful thing to understand the suttas is a
good teacher. As it says in the Boat Sutta (Snp 2.8):

Like one who has embarked on a strong boat,
complete with oars and rudder,
a person wise and skilled in means
can bring many others across.

Here we’ll offer a few tips and resources which might be helpful for people taking their first steps.
Good habits

Here are some reflective pieces about developing a regular practice of reading suttas.

How to Read the Suttas: Words of experience by Bhante Sujato.
Befriending the Suttas: A classic guide found on the original sutta site, Access to Insight.
Reading Faithfully: A website devoted to supporting a deeper, more emotional connection with the suttas.
Guidelines for Sutta Reading: The Sacred Mountain Sangha offers
guidelines for contemplative sutta reading in a group and on your own,
with instruction from Peter Woods.

Structured courses and guides

Some people prefer a more free-flowing, inuitive approach, but for others, a well structured course is just right.

Buddhist Life/Buddhist Path: Bhikkhu Cintita has put together this
comprehensive introduction based on many years’ experience of teaching
courses on the early texts. It’s divided into two books: Buddhist Life
for the foundational teachings and Buddhist Path for systematic training
in the higher path leading to awakening. Each book can be studied
independently and in either order.
In the Buddha’s Words:
Bhikkhu Bodhi presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the Pali
Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. Divided into ten
thematic chapters, In the Buddha’s Words reveals the full scope of the
Buddha’s discourses, from family life and marriage to renunciation and
the path of insight. A concise, informative introduction precedes each
chapter, guiding the reader toward a deeper understanding of the texts
that follow. The readings and introductions may be found on
SuttaCentral’s forum here.
Guide To Tipitaka: Sayagyi U Ko Lay’s
classic survey of the entire Pali canon. This gives a descriptive
overview from a Theravada perspective, summarizing each section and many
individual texts. It’s especially handy if you encounter a new book in
the canon and want to learn some more about it.
The Sutta
Discovery Series: For many years, senior teacher Piya Tan has been
giving sutta classes with detailed notes, translating texts himself from
the Pali. This invaluable resource is entirely available online.

Listen to the suttas

There’s a range of sources providing audio and/or video for the suttas, including readings, classes, and vlogs.

5 Funny Buddhist Suttas That Have a Great Message: Mindah-Lee Kumar
(aka “The Enthusiastic Buddhist”) shows how the Buddha used humor to
make a point.
BSWA sutta classes: For many years, the monks and
nuns of Bodhinyana and Dhammasara, including Ajahn Brahm, have been
giving sutta classes. They’re available on Youtube.
forum: Our forum is a place where anyone can upload or link to
resources on the suttas. There are plenty of readings, chanting, and

Join a reading group

There are many reading
groups for suttas, both local and online. A journey is always best if
you’ve got others to share it with.

We won’t link to any here, as
they tend to be local and transient. But ask around your local centers
or social media, or on our forum, and chances are you’ll find something.
If there’s nothing in your area, why not start a group yourself?
Discuss & Discover, SuttaCentral’s forum

We’ve built a vibrant, diverse community of folks interested in the
suttas. You’re welcome to ask questions, read essays, and join the
conversation here.
Just jump in

Sure, a structured course is a
good way to get an overview of the teachings. But life isn’t
structured. The Buddha didn’t teach everything from A–Z, he responded to
the needs of those he was with. Sometimes the things we learn most from
are random; a phrase we happen to overhear, or a word that comes at
just the right time.

So why not just try a random sutta? Or search to see what the Buddha had to say about cats?
Read them all

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Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…

Tipiṭaka—the three baskets
Sixteen gilt and lacquer leaves with two gilt and lacquer book covers.
Wood coated with lacquer, twelve lines to each leaf written in Pali
script in black lacquer, the text interspersed and bordered with
undulating floral and vegetal motifs in gold on an orange ground. Burma,
19th century. 16 x 63 cm.
These are our primary
sources for understanding what the Buddha taught. They record the
Buddha’s teachings and conversations on specific occasions with a
diverse range of people. Discourses are called sutta in Pali, which is
spelled sūtra in Sanskrit.


Bhikkhu Sujato

The Early Schools of Buddhism
Canonicity of the Suttas
Suttas in the Buddhist Traditions
Modern Reform and Postmodern Criticism

The most important body of sacred scripture in Buddhism is the
Suttapiṭaka, the “basket of discourses”. This collection contains the
teachings of the Buddha and his disciples, as collected and transmitted
by the schools of early Buddhism. This is the well-spring of Dhamma,
from which the teachings and practices of the many schools of Buddhism
are drawn.

The term sutta in Pali or sūtra in Sanskrit is used
quite liberally in the Buddhist traditions and may include a range of
later texts. However, we only consider the earliest of these, which are
the texts included in the Suttapiṭaka of the Pali canon, and the various
corresponding collections and texts in other languages. Not all of
these texts stem from the very earliest period, but we aim to be
inclusive, so as to not miss any of the early scriptures. Generally
speaking, they represent the first few centuries of Buddhist texts, with
a special emphasis on those that may be plausibly attributed to the
historical Buddha and his immediate disciples. Later texts such as the
Mahāyāna sūtras fall outside our scope, except in cases where they quote
from the early texts.

SuttaCentral includes almost all of the
scriptures of this period. Exceptions include such things as certain
manuscripts that are unpublished or unavailable, or too fragmentary, and
some passages or quotes found in later texts and commentaries in
Chinese and Tibetan.

This article is a general overview, and more
specific details may be found on the pages for each collection. Please
note that this article deals with the history and nature of the textual
collections, not with the content and themes.

Buddha lived around the 5th century BCE, and lived and taught in the
nations of the Ganges plain in northern India, especially the regions
known today as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. He had a long career, and was
said to have taught for forty-five years. The canonical Vinaya texts
relate how, after his passing towards the end of the 5th century BCE,
the Buddha’s followers, led by his closest disciple, Ānanda, collected
his teachings at the great First Council in Rājagaha (modern Rajgir),
ensuring their survival until today.

There are several different
accounts of the First Council, and they vary somewhat in the details of
the texts recited there. But it seems likely that the main content was
similar to what is included today in the four main nikāyas, as well as
the six early books of the Khuddaka, together with the early portions of
the Vinaya. These are sometimes referred to as the Early Buddhist Texts
(EBTs). It’s not the case that everything recited at the Council was
identical with what we have today. Even the traditions acknowledge that
there were additions. However, it seems reasonable to accept that the
bulk of the content of these texts stems from this time. The main
changes were in structure and arrangement, while changes to content were
limited and readily identifiable.

The texts would have
originally been in a Prākrit, that is, a dialect of Middle Indo-Aryan
closely related to Sanskrit. The exact form of Prākrit is unknown, and
indeed it may not have been entirely standardized, since monastics from
the earliest times were using different dialects. Indications in the
Pali texts suggest that they were derived from an earlier version in
Māgadhī, that is, the language of the kingdom of Magadha. It appears
that they were standardized in later centuries to a dialect similar to
that used widely across central India for inscriptions, with a partial
Sanskritization. Nevertheless, these languages differ mostly in
phonology, and apart from a few edge cases, changes from one form to
another do not affect the meaning.

For many
years, the texts were passed down in an oral form. This was organized
with groups of reciters, all reciting together the same text to ensure
accuracy. We are often skeptical that an oral tradition can maintain
texts accurately for a long time. This is our cultural bias, since all
we’ve known are written texts. But oral transmission was normal in
ancient India. The brahmanical Ṛg Veda, for example, was passed down in
letter-perfect form for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years before being
written down. No matter what the medium of transmission—oral, written,
or digital—corruptions and changes can creep in. The most important
thing in maintaining accuracy is not the medium, but the care and
dedication of the people doing the work. The Buddhist texts, through the
use of such devices as repetition, are highly optimized for reliable
transmission of doctrine.

The Sri Lankan historical chronicles
record that in 29 BCE, to guard against upheaval in the country, the
Pali canon was written down in the Aluvihare Rock Temple. While we don’t
have historical records for the mainland, it seems safe to assume that
texts there were written down around the same period. Indeed, a range of
Buddhist manuscripts from northern regions have been found dating from
the early centuries CE, one of which has been carbon dated to around 75

Due to the materials and climate, no such early manuscripts
of the Pali canon have survived. There are a few earlier passages in
inscriptions and the like, but the bulk of our Pali texts come from
manuscripts that have been recopied in the past few centuries.

The Chinese texts originate from manuscripts of various schools that
were taken to China and translated there by teams of monks. Each
collection has a different origin, and due to the meticulous records of
the Chinese canon, the translators and dates of these are usually well
known. Most of the early Buddhist discourses were translated around the
5th century CE, though some were earlier and some later than this. It is
not always possible to determine exactly what the original language of
the manuscripts was, but in many cases it was probably Sanskrit.
However, a variety of other Indic languages such as Gandhārī or Buddhist
Hybrid Sanskrit may have been used.

Likewise, the early texts found in Tibetan stem from Sanskrit texts that were translated in Tibet over millenium ago.

None of the modern forms of Buddhism normally use Sanskrit texts, as
the northern schools preserved only the translations. The texts in
Sanskrit and other early Indic dialects stem from a range of fortuitous
finds in the past century. Certain Sanskrit texts were discovered in
ancient manuscripts in Nepal and Tibet, where they had lain mostly
untouched since being brought from India nearly a thousand years ago.
Several finds have unearthed more texts. Manuscripts from Gilgit and
elsewhere in central Asia, Afghanistan, and Pakistan contain suttas in
several different languages, ranging from extensive texts to tiny scraps
containing only a few letters. Some were recovered from proper
archaeological research, but other manuscripts simply appeared on the
black market and their origin can only be guessed at. These manuscripts
represent the spectrum of Buddhist literature of the time, including
early suttas, Vinaya, Abhidhamma, legends, Mahāyāna texts, and
commentaries. Here we are only concerned with the early sutta material.

Such texts are sometimes called the “Dead Sea Scrolls” of Buddhism, but
this is misleading. While the Dead Sea Scrolls contained new texts
indicating a radically different perspective on early Christianity,
these Buddhist suttas are almost always minor variations on what we find
in the Pali canon. They serve to indicate the spread and diversity of
Buddhism, and offer clarification on many points of history and detail,
but they do not radically revise our understanding of the teachings.
The Early Schools of Buddhism

The century after the Buddha passed away witnessed a transformation in
Indian political history. The 16 nations of the Buddha’s time were
amalgamated by the superior force of the Magadhan kingdom, which became
an empire encompassing most of the Indian mainland. At the same time,
the invasion by Alexander the Great established Greek kingdoms in the
north-west, initiating an era of international trade.

Buddhist community, sponsored by kings such as Aśoka, took full
advantage of these favorable conditions to spread the Dhamma over the
Indian subcontinent and further. Less than two centuries after the
Buddha’s passing, Buddhist communities were thriving in regions as
far-flung as Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

But with this growth came
new challenges. The community began to diverge, driven primarily by
distance, but also by doctrinal disagreements and personality clashes.
Soon there were, according to the traditional reckoning, “eighteen”
schools. This is just a conventional number, and there were really four
or five major groups of schools, with many regional branches.

Each of these schools would have preserved a scriptural collection.
Today we have only a small selection of these. Nevertheless, though much
is lost, we do have enough to get a reasonable idea of the similarities
and differences. Note that, unlike the Vinaya texts, it is sometimes
difficult to determine the school affiliation of a sutta collection.

For the purposes of the Discourses, the following schools are most important.

Theravāda: More precisely known as the Mahāvihāravāsins, the
“Dwellers in the Great Monastery (at Anurādhapura)”, this group was
established in Sri Lanka by Aśoka’s son, Mahinda. They passed down the
collection known as the Pali Tipiṭaka, or Pali Canon. The collection
retains the characteristics of its mainland origin, possibly from
Avanti, and few changes were made on the island. This school exclusively
used Pali for its canonical texts.
Sarvāstivāda: This was an
influential school, or group of schools, mostly based in the north-west
of India. We possess an extensive range of their Discourses—a Majjhima, a
Saṁyutta, most of a Dīgha, and several partial collections. The bulk of
the extant sutta texts in Sanskrit, Chinese, and Tibetan hail from this
school, or one of their branches such as the Mūlasarvāstivāda. Their
distinctive doctrine was that all phenomena in some sense “exist” in the
past, present, and future. However, like all sectarian doctrines, this
made little to no impact on their canonical texts. Their texts were
passed down mainly in Sanskrit, and sometimes in a sanskritized Prākrit.
Dharmaguptaka: A school doctrinally almost indistinguishable from
the Theravāda, but based in Gandhāra, in modern Pakistan and
Afghanistan. They mainly used the language we call Gandhārī, and we
possess a Dharmapada and some suttas in the original. The Dīrghāgama in
Chinese (DA) is believed to have been translated from a text of this
Mahāsaṅghika: Some texts in Hybrid Sanskrit are from
this school, and the Ekottarikāgama (EA) in Chinese is sometimes
attributed to them, though this is unclear.

Of these, only the
Theravāda still exists as a school today, with an unbroken history of
transmission of an entire collection in the original language. In
addition, there is a complete set of commentaries for all the texts. For
these reasons, the Pali collection has been, and will continue to be,
the primary source for the early Buddhist teachings.

For the
rest, we have collections and fragments that were preserved primarily in
Chinese translation, and to a lesser extent in Tibetan. The few texts
in Sanskrit and other early Indic languages stem from chance finds;
thousand year-old manuscripts preserved in mountain monasteries in Tibet
or Nepal, or even older texts dug up from the sands of Central Asia.
These texts are much less complete than the Pali, have been little
studied, and pose a range of difficult linguistic and practical
problems. Nevertheless, they have a unique value in offering an
alternate source for checking and comparing the Pali texts.

unanimous opinion of the scholars who have studied these texts is that
they are mostly consistent in doctrine and content, and differ mainly in
arrangement and organization. While it is true that the differences are
not small, and it is hard to generalize, it is clear that the early
community saw their main task to preserve verbatim the words of the
Buddha, especially the essential teachings, a task that they took very

In the Buddha’s forty-five years of
teaching, he was mainly concerned to address the person or people he was
with, to appease their suffering. Thus he was not concerned with
creating a overarching canon of his teachings. However, he did give some
indications of a broader system of classifying the teachings. Sometimes
he mentioned certain doctrinal formulations as the central content of
his teachings—the four noble truths, or the sets of teachings on
practice that came to be known as the bodhipakkhiyā dhammā, the “things
leading to awakening”. These sets of doctrines form the backbone of the
Saṁyutta Nikāya. He also mentioned an organization by literary style,
known as the aṅgas or “branches”. While the Pali texts mention nine
aṅgas, the northern texts typically mention twelve, and there is some
indication that originally there may have been only three or four.

Regardless of how the texts were organized in the Buddha’s life, early
on the schools reorganized the texts in the system of nikāyas or āgamas
as we have them today. (The term nikāya, a “collection” or “group”, is
preferred in the Theravādin context, while the northern tradition
usually used āgama, which has the sense of a “tradition” or
“transmission”; however, these usages are not specific and may be used
in any tradition.) This reorganization may well have started from the
First Council, or at any rate, not much later. The primary motive was to
arrange the collection into more manageable sections in order to
facilitate memorization. The nikāyas were not absolute or fixed
categories, but standards or templates which the different branches
implemented in their own way.

Each of the schools seems to have
had main four nikāyas. The sequence of these is not fixed. The form
adopted on SuttaCentral is the well-known sequence as used in the Pali
tradition. In other schools, as implied by the accounts of the First
Council, the collections were in different orders, such as placing the
Saṁyutta first. Note that in the Chinese canon, the editors of the
Taishō edition rearranged their material under the influence of the Pali
canon to adopt the same sequence.

Each of the nikāyas includes
material that was edited and arranged, and sometimes added to, over a
period of time. While each collection contains some unique texts, for
the most part the differences in the number of discourses is simply due
to the fact that a given discourse may be assigned a different place in
different collections.

Long: A collection of the “long”
discourses. The Dīgha has more elaborate literary ambitions than the
remaining texts, and one of its aims seems to have been the conversion
of brahmins, an educated class used to sophisticated literature. The
Pali Dīgha Nikāya (DN) has 34 discourses, the Chinese (Dharmagupta)
Dīrghāgama (DA) has 30. An old Sanskrit manuscript of the
Sarvāstivādins, largely unpublished, indicates that their collection
contained 47 discourses. In addition, there are a number of individual
Dīrgha discourses preserved in Chinese translation.
Middle: The
Majjhima contains a group of “middle length” discourses, 152 in Pali
(MN), and 222 in the Chinese Sarvāstivāda version (MA). As with the
Dīgha, there are a number of independent discourses in Chinese, too. The
Majjhima contains a wide range of discourses on diverse topics, with an
emphasis on dialogue and discussion.
Linked: The “linked” or
“connected” discourses consists of a large number of smaller discourses
organized mostly by topic, but also sometimes by the person who is
involved. Here we find large collections of discourses on such key
Buddhist topics as dependent origination, the five aggregates, the four
noble truths, and the eightfold noble path. We have the Saṁyutta Nikāya
(SN) in Pali, and a comparable Saṁyuktāgama of the Sarvāstivādins in
Chinese translation (SA). In Chinese we also find two smaller,
incomplete translations. In addition, there are a significant number of
Saṁyutta style texts in Tibetan and Sanskrit.
Numbered: The
“numbered” or “numerical” discourses are usually known as Aṅguttara
Nikāya in Pali. However, the Pali tradition also knows the form Ekottara
(“one-up” or “incremental”), and this is the form usually found in the
northern collections. These collections organize texts in numbered sets,
from one to eleven. Compared to the other nikāyas, they are more
oriented to the lay community. The Ekottarikāgama (EA) in Chinese is a
highly unusual text, which features a range of variations within itself
when it comes even to basic doctrines. It shares considerably less in
common with the Pali Aṅguttara than the other collections do with their
counterparts. In addition, there is a partial Ekottarikāgama in Chinese,
as well as a variety of individual discourses and fragments in Chinese
and Sanskrit.

The four nikāyas in Pali are a highly integrated
corpus of texts, and we continually find passages, teachings, and
phrases that are shared throughout. It is possible to discern
differences in emphasis and orientation between them, but this should
not obscure the fact that the bulk of the main doctrines are shared.
Lacking complete sets of āgamas from other schools, it is hard to know
for sure that their collections were similarly integrated, but it seems
likely that this was the case.

Early discourses that were not
included in the nikāyas were gathered by the Pali tradition into their
Khuddaka or “minor” collection. It’s not entirely clear why these
weren’t simply included in the four nikāyas; originally it may have
simply been a matter of organizational convenience. The Pali has six
works in the Khuddaka that are considered to belong to the early period.
These mostly consist of verse, with some narrative and doctrinal
material in prose.

Sutta Nipāta

While these texts are considered early, they are on the whole probably a
little later than the main nikāyas. Certain chapters of the Sutta
Nipāta have often been regarded as an especially early and authentic
portion of the canon, but this should not be over-interpreted. Other
parts of the Sutta Nipāta are clearly late. And there is nothing in the
early portions to indicate that they are earlier than the bulk of the
prose discourses.

The collection seems to have been considered an
open one until quite a late date. The Burmese recension of the Pali
canon even includes the Milindapañha, a text that could not have been
written less than three hundred years after the Buddha’s passing.

It is unclear whether each school had its own version of the Khuddaka.
However, many of these texts, especially the Dhammapada, have
counterparts in the northern collections. It seems likely that despite
differences in organization, each school would have had some collection
loosely corresponding to the Khuddaka.

The remaining texts in the
Khuddaka were added later. In style and content, they represent a
striking shift from the early texts. They indicate different
developments within the Buddhist community in the centuries following
the Buddha. These later texts include the extensive collections of
Jātaka tales, found in Pali and other traditions. Note that in the Pali
tradition, only the verses are canoncial, while the stories themselves
are found in the commentary.
Canonicity of the Suttas

early Discourses are regarded as canonical in all schools of Buddhism.
They are considered to be Buddhavacana, the “words of the Buddha”, and
are revered as sacred scripture. Each school, of course, accepts other
texts as canonical also; but the Discourses, together with the Vinayas,
are the main areas of overlap between the schools.

This general
picture, however, gets more complicated when we try to pin down the
details. While the Discourses are largely similar in each canon, they
are not identical. Each of the three main schools maintains its own
distinct canons: the Theravāda of South and Southeast Asia have their
texts in Pali; Buddhists of Central Asia use Tibetan; and in East Asia
the canon is in Chinese. A full set of nikāyas are in Pali; extensive
collections are found in Chinese; and limited selections are found in
Tibetan. The Sanskrit and other early Indic texts are not part of any
formal canon, but the texts are nevertheless canonical in the sense that
they are recognized as being the same as the texts in the canon.

So while we can say that the early Discourses are in principle
considered canonical generally, for practical purposes each of the
schools has a specific set of early Discourses found in their own canon.
Suttas in the Buddhist Traditions

In traditional Buddhist education, the Discourses have usually not been
directly taught. Rather, the teachings and principles found in the
Discourses have been assimilated and organized in later texts, which
became the medium of education. In the Theravāda, Discourses were until
recently passed down in Pali, and so were only accessible to those,
usually monks, who learned Pali. And not all those who learned Pali
would study the Discourses. It seems that teaching was for practical
purposes handed down in local monastic traditions, based on handbooks
and sets of notes and commentaries. Before modern times, it would have
been rare to find any but the largest monasteries that actually
possessed a full set of the Tipiṭaka. Today, printed sets of the canon
are widely available in both Pali and translation; but they are still
often left in a locked cabinet on the shrine, unread.

For the
most part, Buddhists might be familiar with a small set of popular
discourses. These would include such texts as the Dhammacakkappavattana
Sutta—the famous first sermon of the Buddha—and some short texts used
for protection chanting and as the basis of sermons for the laity, such
as the Maṅgala, Ratana, and Metta Suttas.

Apart from scholars,
most Theravāda Buddhists do not clearly distinguish early Discourses
from other sacred texts. The word sutta can mean simply “sacred
scripture” and may even be used for such things as magic formulas and
the like. While Buddhists are generally aware that there is such a thing
as the Tipiṭaka that contains the words of the Buddha, only educated
Buddhists have a clear idea of the contents. There is no tradition in
Buddhism comparable to the Bible readings of the Christian Mass, and so
no standard way of communicating the contents of the texts directly to
the people.

In some Buddhist traditions, it is considered
mandatory for ordained monks to memorize and study closely certain
portions of the ancient texts. Sri Lankan monks, for example, memorize
the Dhammapada. However, this is not the case in Thailand, for example,
where there is no education requirement for monks. Even in the nine
years of the formal Dhamma study curriculum in Thailand, the canonical
Discourses are not studied, as they are considered too sacred.

East Asian Buddhism, traditional education focused on the Mahāyāna
sutras and the texts of the Chinese masters, and there is little
evidence that the early discourses were widely studied. It is sometimes
said that the translation style of the āgamas compares poorly with the
more elegant diction of the Mahāyāna translations by Xuanzang and other
masters. And the early discourses are, of course, not organized for easy
reading and study.

Tibetan Buddhism includes study of early
Buddhist schools as part of its regular curriculum. However, this refers
to the Abhidhamma doctrines of the later schools. A reasonable grasp of
the early Buddhist texts is, nevertheless, possible to achieve in
Tibetan. Even though full āgama texts are lacking, substantial passages
from the early texts are found in the Upāyika, which is a compilation of
passages referred to in the Abhidharmakoṣa, and in other scattered
Modern Reform and Postmodern Criticism

From the middle
of the 19th Century, European and Asian scholars began to study the
Buddhist texts on historical grounds. Whereas traditional scholarship
remained within each school, interpreting them within their local
contexts, the new scholarship aimed to locate the texts in historical
time and place. This approach was both critical—in the sense of being
skeptical of traditional claims to authority, and requiring evidence to
support claims—and constructive, in the sense that it aimed to build a
coherent and meaningful historical picture in which to understand the

Modernity brought a range of new techniques and achievements. These include:

Comparative study of the previously isolated scriptures in Chinese,
Pali, Tibetan, and Sanskrit revealed both similarities and differences.
Based on the accounts of Chinese pilgrims, archaeologists unearthed
a series of ancient sites in India, proving that familiar sutta
locations like Sāvatthī or Rājagaha were real places.
of Buddhist scriptures with Hindu and Jaina texts allowed for a better
understanding of the cultural forces active in the Buddha’s time.
Application of text-critical methods established the historical and
doctrinal evolution of the Buddhist texts and their relation to one
The Aśokan pillars and inscriptions were discovered and
deciphered, allowing for a proper historical understanding of this
seminal Buddhist monarch.
There was a new emphasis on the early Discourses as the historical source for the Buddha’s teachings.

Modernist developments such as these are not confined to Western
scholarship, but have been conducted in conjunction with textual and
practical reforms throughout Asian Buddhism. Each of the traditions of
Asian Buddhism has participated in and applied these developments in
diverse ways. Some examples include:

In Theravāda, the Fifth and Sixth Councils reasserted the centrality of the Pali canon.
Translations of the Pali canon have been made into modern Asian
languages and widely distributed across the Buddhist world, along with
English translations.
The reformist Buddhism of King Mongkut in
19th Century Thailand was largely inspired by modernist ideas of textual
and disciplinary reform.
Modern approaches to meditation were
developed based on Pali texts. The Burmese vipassanā schools took the
Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta as their core text, making this the single most
influential text in the modern practice of meditation. In Thailand,
reform movements such as the Forest Tradition, or Ajahn Buddhadāsa’s
explicitly sutta-based approach, rejected traditional contemplative
practices based on magical invocations, and advocated a return to the
body-focused and grounded mindfulness practices of the early suttas.
The hugely influential Taishō edition of the Chinese canon was
developed by Japanese scholars who had studied text-critical techniques
in Germany. They rearranged the canon to put the āgamas in pride of
place at the start of the collection, in the sequence found in the Pali.
They also included limited information on Pali parallels.
empirical and rational strands of the early texts were emphasized,
arguing for an essential compatibility with modern science. This
provided the basis for the later application of scientific method to
mindfulness meditation, which has proved crucial to the global
acceptance of meditation as an evidence-based approach to happiness,
stress relief, and psychological wellness.

It remains the case
that direct study of the suttas is a minority practice. However, across
Asia we find popular reform movements that emphasize the central
importance of the suttas. Sutta study is most popular in Sri Lanka,
where there is a proliferation of teachers and movements advocating a
return to the suttas. The hugely popular monk Venerable Kiribathgoda
Gnanananda Thero is controversial for his insistence on treating the
suttas as the primary sources of Dhamma. In Thailand, the Buddhavacana
movement of Ajahn Kukrit Sotthibalo is changing the face of contemporary
Thailand, bringing many people to read the suttas for the first time.
In Taiwan, similarly, the recently deceased master Yin Shun emphasized
the historical primacy of the early texts, arguing that there was an
essential continuity between them and early Mahāyāna. And in countries
outside the regions of traditional Buddhism, teachers such as Ajahn
Brahm, Bhikkhu Bodhi, and many others advocate the teachings of the

Since the 1980s, such modernist reforms have come under
postmodern criticism, mostly from American scholars who specialize in
later forms of Buddhism. These criticisms aim to dislodge the modernist
consensus, arguing that we have no real way of knowing what the Buddha
taught, or the provenance of the Pali and other texts. A variety of
specific arguments attempt to refute key claims of the modernists, such
as the idea that the Buddha’s teaching was essentially rational. These
arguments have been repeatedly criticized by experts in the field. The
postmodern approach has yet to produce constructive results comparable
to those of modernism.

One of the most concrete
outcomes of the modernist reforms has been the availability of
translations of the early texts. Until now, almost all such translations
have been from the Pali canon. But a few translations from the Chinese,
Tibetan, and Sanskrit texts are now starting to appear.

began in Europe with isolated translations such as Viggo Fausböll’s
translation of the Dhammapada in 1855 and the Sutta Nipāta in 1881.
Under the leadership of T.W. Rhys Davids, the Pali Text Society, founded
in 1881, undertook the task of translating the entire canon into
English. These translations were groundbreaking, but have for the most
part been replaced by a more modern and accurate generation of
translations by scholars such as Bhikkhu Bodhi. We include some of the
older translations on SuttaCentral, but for the most part they are
primarily of historical interest, since not only is the language
archaic, but they contain many errors.

Major translations from
the Pali have also been made into Thai, Sinhala, Burmese, Cambodian,
Vietnamese, Japanese, Hindi, and most recently Bangla. Most of these
have been digitized and are available on SuttaCentral. However, we are
still looking forward to including the Bangla and Cambodian
translations, and the Japanese translation, though in the public domain,
is unavailable due to the actions of the publisher.

It’s not
always possible to easily find out the translation methods and
approaches of these different editions. However, my understanding is
that the above translations were all made directly from the Pali. In
addition to this, there have been many secondary translations made from
the English translations. Most of the remaining translations in
SuttaCentral fall into this category, though not all. Some translations,
for instance, in German or Norwegian, have been made directly from the

The new set of translations made from the Pali for
SuttaCentral by myself and Bhante Brahmali build on this tradition. They
aim to provide accurate, clear, and idiomatic translations of the early
texts in Pali.

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…

Monastic Law
The texts on Monastic Law (vinaya) detail the lifestyle, rules, and
procedures for Buddhist monks and nuns. They provide the guidelines for
Buddhist monastics to this day, and in addition, paint a detailed and
vivid picture of everyday life in ancient India.
The Monastic Law

Bhikkhu Brahmali

Textual Transmission and the Schools
Modern Perspectives
References and Further Reading

The Vinaya Piṭaka, “The Basket of Monastic Law,” contains the rules
that are binding on monastics and the regulations that apply to monastic
communities. The Monastic Law is available in more recensions than any
other part of the Tipiṭaka. There is a full version in Pali, and four
complete versions extant in Chinese translation, all belonging to
different schools of early Buddhism: Mahāsāṅghika, Dharmaguptaka,
Mahīśāsaka, and Sarvāstivāda. The Chinese Tipiṭaka also preserves other
Vinaya related texts, such as an independent bhikkhu pātimokkha of the
Kāśyapīya School and several more or less school-specific Vinaya texts.
The Vinaya of the Mūlasarvāstivāda school exists in three versions: a
complete text in Tibetan translation, a mostly complete version in
Chinese, and substantial portions in Sanskrit. There are also several
Vinaya texts, as well as a large number of fragments, in Sanskrit and
other Indic languages, mostly of Mahāsāṅghika, Sarvāstivāda, and
Mūlasarvāstivāda provenance.

The word vinaya, here
translated as “Monastic Law,” originally probably meant “training,” as
can be seen from its usage in the Sutta Piṭaka, “the Basket of
Discourses.” In this sense it complements the Dhamma, the doctrine or
teaching, which provides the instructions on how the training is to be
achieved. The compound dhamma-vinaya is a common one in the earliest
literature and might be rendered as “theory and practice.” Gradually the
meaning shifted to refer to the rules of conduct instead, thus
referring to the training in a narrower sense. Although the former usage
is more common in the suttas, it is this latter usage of vinaya which
has become the dominant one and which has prevailed to the present day.

The Monastic Law developed over a period of several centuries after the
Buddha’s passing away. Yet given the close agreement on some of the
most fundamental aspects of the Vinaya across all surviving scriptures,
it seems likely that the earliest parts originated in the lifetime of
the Buddha. This includes the rules of conduct binding on all monastics,
known as the pātimokkha, and several of the most important procedures
that regulate the proper functioning of the monastic communities. It is
only these parts of the Vinaya that are part of the Early Buddhist Texts
in the strictest sense.

Around this kernel the Vinaya gradually
expanded. Over time, the pātimokkha rules gained a canonical commentary
that included origin stories, word analyses, detailed permutation series
on the applicability of the rules, non-offense clauses, and case
studies. For the rest of the Vinaya, known as the Khandhakas, the
expansion was less structured, with minor rules, stories, and procedures
apparently being added as the need arose. It has been shown by
Frauwallner (1956) that, despite a significant common core, many of the
details of this part of the Vinaya vary between the schools.

exact cut-off point after which no new material was added to the
Canonical Vinaya is impossible to pin down and it would have varied from
school to school. On linguistic grounds, it seems likely that the
majority of additions to the Pali Vinaya, with the exception of the
Parivāra, were done prior to its arrival in Sri Lanka in the third
century BCE. After this point new material was added to the commentarial
literature, which, despite its likely origin in the mainland, was
greatly expanded and developed in Sri Lanka.

The Vinaya was not
established as part of an overall plan to provide the monastic community
with a legal structure, but was laid down rule by rule in response to
problems as they arose in the monastic Order. It is the Dhamma, the
teaching, that guided the laying down of the Vinaya, and the Vinaya is
subsidiary to and bound up with the broader concerns of the proper
practice of the Buddhist path. A large number of rules were laid down in
response the lay people’s criticism of the monastic Order.
Textual Transmission and the Schools

The number of extant Vinaya texts is quite large and the process of
transmission and translation into various Indic languages and especially
into Chinese and Tibetan is quite complex. In what follows I give an
outline of how the main Vinaya texts were transmitted to China and

The first split in the monastic Order occurred between the
Mahāsāṅghikas and the Sthaviras, very roughly around 200 BCE. Each of
these branches subsequently split into a number of sub-schools. Of the
six complete Vinayas still extant, only one belongs to the Mahāsāṅghika
group and the remaining five to sub-schools of the Sthaviras. We should
therefore expect to find shared qualities between the Vinayas of the
Sthavira schools that are lacking in the Mahāsāṅghika Vinaya. Indeed,
the Khandhakas of the Mahāsāṅghika Vinaya are structured differently
from those of all the other Vinayas.

The sub-schools of the
Sthavira branch for which we still have complete Vinayas fall into two
sub-groups: the Sarvāstivāda and the Mūlasarvāstivāda on the one hand,
and the Dharmaguptaka, the Mahīśāsaka, and the Theravāda on the other.
First the Sarvāstivādins split from the rest of the Sthaviras. Over time
the Mūlasarvāstivāda emerged as a sub-school of the Sarvāstivāda, and
for this reason the Vinayas of these two schools share certain
characteristics (Frauwallner, 1956: 194). After the Sarvāstivādin split,
the remainder of the Sthaviras divided further, including into the
Dharmaguptaka, the Mahīśāsaka, and the Theravāda. Yet these three
schools were probably no more than regional variations of each other
(Sujato, 2012: 102) and consequently their Vinayas have much in common
(Frauwallner, 1956: 181).

Apart from the Theravāda Vinaya, the following are the main Canonical Vinayas still extant:

A complete Mahāsāṅghika Vinaya, found in the Chinese Tipiṭaka at T
1425, was translated into Chinese by Faxian and Buddhabhadra in 416-418
CE. Although its section of Khandhakas is structured differently from
that of the other schools, the content appears to largely overlap.
Further study is required to clarify the degree of divergence.
Substantial parts of this Vinaya has also been preserved in Buddhist
Hybrid Sanskrit, including the Mahāvastu, a large work mostly concerned
with the biography of the Buddha, as well as the Suttavibhaṅga for the
nuns and the monks’ pātimokkha.
A complete Sarvāstivāda Vinaya
is preserved in Chinese at T 1435, translated by Kumārajīva in 404-409
CE. There are also a number of surviving fragments in Sanskrit.
full translation of the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya into Tibetan, found in
the Kanjur at D 1-7/P 1030-1036, was completed in first decade of 9th
century CE by Jinamitra of Kashmir and various others. There is a
version of this Vinaya in Chinese at T 1441-1457, largely translated by
Yijing in 703-710 CE. This translation is incomplete and full of gaps
(Frauwallner, 1956: 195). In addition to this, approximately 80 percent
of the Khandhakas exist in Sanskrit (Clarke, 2015: 75).
from a few fragments in Sanskrit and Gāndhārī, a full Dharmaguptaka
Vinaya is only preserved in Chinese at T 1428, translated by Buddhayaśas
and Zhu Fonian in 410-412 CE. Of all the extant Vinayas, this is the
one normally regarded as closest to the Theravāda Vinaya (Clarke, 2015:
The Mahīśāsaka Vinaya is only extant in Chinese at T 1421,
translated by Buddhajīva from Kashmir and others in 423-424 CE from a
manuscript brought from Sri Lanka by Faxian. According to Frauwallner
(1956: 183-84), this Vinaya is full of gaps. It is closely related to
the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya (Frauwallner, 1956: 181).
Apart from
the full Vinayas listed above, there are a variety of Canonical Vinaya
texts and fragments in different languages. One significant text is the
monks’ pātimokkha of the Kāśyapīya School, available at T 1460 and
translated into Chinese by Gautama Prajñāruci in 543 CE.


The Vinaya Piṭaka is divided into two main parts: the Suttavibhaṅga,
“The Analysis of the Rules,” and The Khandhakas, “the Chapters.” The
individual schools sometimes have additional texts, such as the
Parivāra, “The Compendium,” belonging to the Theravāda tradition, and
the Uttaragrantha belonging to the Mūlasarvāstivādins.

Suttavibhaṅga means “Analysis of the sutta.” Sutta here does not refer
to the discourses, but rather to the pātimokkha rules as a complete set.

The Suttavibhaṅga consists of the pātimokkha rules embedded in a
commentary that analyses each rule in detail. The Suttavibhaṅga is
divided into two parts, the 227 rules for the monks and the 311 rules
for the nuns. The majority of rules are the same for the two Orders, but
130 rules are specific to the nuns and 46 specific to the monks. The
greater number of rules for the nuns is in large part due to the
subdivision of individual monks’ rules into multiple rules for the nuns
and to the fact that the nuns have rules in their pātimokkha that the
monks have in the Khandhakas.

The rules are categorised according
to the penalty incurred for breaching them. The heaviest penalty,
expulsion from the monastic Order, is incurred only for conduct that is
fundamentally opposed to monastic life, such a sexual intercourse or
murder. There are 4 such rules for the monks and 8 for the nuns. The
second heaviest penalty consists of a period of suspension and probation
during which time one is not a full member of the monastic Order. There
are 13 such rules for the monks and 17 for the nuns. The vast majority
of offenses, however, are cleared simply by confession. These rules are
subdivided into a number of categories dependent on factors such as the
severity of the breach, the sort of confession that is required, and
additional requirements such as relinquishment of wrongly acquired
requisites. The last seven rules of the Suttavibhaṅga are principles for
resolving “legal” issues. Most of the material connected with these
principles is now found in the Khandhakas.

Within the
Suttavibhaṅga, each rule is largely self-contained and forms its own
subsection. These sections begin with one or more origin stories that
relate the incident that led the Buddha to lay down a particular rule.
Many of these are no more than brief accounts of a stereotypical monk or
nun who is simply stated to have done something inappropriate. A few
are elaborate narratives that may include sub-rules or important
procedures for the monastic Order, and occasionally even sutta-type
material or Jātaka-type stories. The majority of origin stories fall
somewhere in between these two extremes.

Following the origin
story is the actual rule. In a number of cases the original rule is
later amended by the Buddha, sometimes several times, before it reaches
its final form. The rule is then analysed in detail in a word
commentary, in which each significant word of the rule is defined. These
definitions range from merely supplying a synonym to large sections
with a detailed exposition. The word commentary is always technical in

After the word commentary, many rules are further
analysed as to their applicability given a number of general scenarios.
These section normally take the form of a permutation series in which a
certain number of factors are varied in all possible combinations with
each other. These sections, too, are highly technical.

Next comes
a non-offense clause, which sets out important exemptions for each
rule. The non-offense clause is sometimes followed by a set of case
studies. These concern specific instances where a monastic acts in such a
way that it is not clear-cut whether they have committed an offense.
The incident is related and the Buddha then decides on the matter. This
section is similar in content to the origin stories. Only the first nine
rules of the monks’ pātimokkha have this section.

study of the various pātimokkhas makes it clear that these texts in
large part go back to the pre-sectarian period of Buddhism (Pachow,
2000). As for the rest of the material in the Suttavibhaṅga, academics
normally consider this material to be significantly younger than the
pātimokkha rules (v. Hinüber, 2000: 13f), but it is nevertheless likely
that some of it goes back to the earliest period (Pachow, 2000: 14ff).
In the absence of more detailed research, it seems prudent to regard the
pātimokkha as the only part of the Suttavibhaṅga that belongs to the
Early Buddhist Texts.

But even this overstates the case, for it
is clear that not even all the pātimokkha rules belong to the earliest
period (Pachow, 2000). This is true of many, perhaps all, of the most
minor rules of the monks’ pātimokkha, the sekhiyas, but especially of
the rules for the nuns, many of which vary considerably between the
different schools, making it likely that they stem from the sectarian

The other main part of the Vinaya, the
Khandhakas, is a group of sections that each discuss a major area of
monastic law, such as a section on ordination, several sections on
allowable requisites, and a number of sections that deal with technical
matters. The Theravāda Khandhakas is a set of 22 sections, all of which
are matched by equivalent sections in the other existing Vinaya
recensions, with the partial exception of the Mahāsāṅghikas. The
Khandhakas of the Mahāsāṅghikas, although containing much of the same
material as the other Vinaya recensions, are structured differently.
There is as yet no scholarly consensus as to why this is the case and
what might be the implications for the historical evolution of the

The Khandhakas lack the close unifying principle
found in the Suttavibhaṅga, which, as we have seen, is organised as a
commentary and analysis of the pātimokkha rules. This makes the
Khandhakas less integrated and more diverse than the Suttavibhaṅga.

In place of the rigid structure of the Suttavibhaṅga, the Khandhakas
are loosely structured around the life story of the Buddha. After the
Buddha’s awakening, he set out to teach others about his discovery. As
he started to gain a monastic following, the need for rules and
procedures gradually arose. This need continued throughout the Buddha’s
life. It is this process that furnishes the framework for the Khandhakas
as a whole.

The “biography” of the Buddha is in fact largely
considered part of the Vinaya in all Buddhist schools. (Some schools
even include their version of the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta in the Vinaya,
rather than among the suttas, as with the Theravādins.) The Khandhakas
show ordinary interactions of the Buddha with monastics and lay people,
and we get a glimpse of the Buddha as real person, not just as the
distant teacher and leader of a large religious organisation. We see him
walking around the Ganges plain, meeting a variety of people. We see
him in close contact with his monastic disciples, criticising their
misdeeds, but also praising them when they get it right. The touching
story of the Buddha and Ven. Ānanda cleaning up a monk suffering from
dysentery is found in the Khandhakas. This close and almost personal
view of the Buddha is one factor that makes the Khandhakas a
particularly interesting collection.

One of the main functions of
the Khandhakas is to present the procedures by which the monastic
Orders conduct their business. These include the ordination procedure
and the uposatha ceremony, but also a number of other procedures that
enable the Orders to function properly. These procedures are governed by
precise rules, especially regarding democratic participation and
decentralised decision making. They allow for effective and harmonious
dispatch of monastic business.

The Khandhakas include a large
number of minor rules not found in the pātimokkha. These rules are
diverse, but can broadly be summarised as prohibiting luxuries and
sensual behaviour, both of which are incompatible with the renunciant

The Khandhakas also include background stories of some of
the Buddha’s most well-known lay disciples, such as Anāthapiṇḍika,
Visākhā, and Jīvaka. There are also stories about monastic disciples,
such as the remarkable story of Pilindavaccha, the inspiring stories of
Soṇa Kolivisa and Soṇa Kuṭikaṇṇa, as well as the downfall of Devadatta.
Then there are several Jātaka-type stories, some of which are also found
in the Jātaka collection. On top of this, each section often has its
own origin story, similar to those found in the Suttavibhaṅga. But apart
from the origin stories, the Khandhakas lack the detailed exegetical
material found in the Suttavibhaṅga.

The third last chapter of
the Khandhakas deals with rules and procedures that are specific to the
nuns, including their ordination procedure. Unless specifically stated
or implied, the rest of Khandhakas are equally valid for both Orders.

The Khandhakas end with a description of the first saṅgīti, the first
“communal recitation” of the teachings after the Buddha’s passing away,
as well as the famous Vesālī affair, sometimes known as the Second
Council, where the Order with difficulty resolved a disagreement over
issues of Vinaya. The Vesālī affair is said to have happened around one
hundred years after the Buddha passed away. It is around this time that
sectarian tendencies are starting to form in the monastic Order, and
this is roughly the cut-of-point for the common heritage of all
Other Texts

The Theravāda tradition includes the
Parivāra in its Vinaya Piṭaka. Oskar von Hinüber (2000: 22) suggests it
was completed no later than the first century AD. The Parivāra is an
analytical summary of the first two parts of the Vinaya. In style and
method it is sometimes compared to the Abhidhamma.

Other schools,
too, have Vinaya summaries and addenda that may or may not share
material with the Parivāra. Because of a lack of research, not much is
known about these texts. It seems clear, however, that none of them is
part of the Early Buddhist Texts.
Modern Perspectives

Most of
the early schools of Buddhism have long since disappeared, but three
Vinaya traditions are still alive: the Dharmaguptaka, practiced in East
Asia, including China and Korea; the Mūlasarvāstivāda, practiced in
Tibet and Mongolia; and the Theravāda, practiced in South and Southeast

In practice, it is rare for monastics to follow all the
stipulations of their chosen Vinaya lineage. For instance, although the
use of money is prohibited by the pātimokkha rules of all schools, it is
nevertheless used by the vast majority of monastics. The extent to
which the rules are followed varies enormously, but most monastic do at
least follow the most important rules, that is, the rules entailing
expulsion and those entailing suspension. A similar situation holds for
the procedures that govern the Orders. Sometimes they are practiced to
the letter, such as most ordination ceremonies in the Theravāda
tradition. At other times the procedures are misinterpreted or simply
disregarded, such as the procedures for choosing the officials of the

Over the course of Buddhist history, there have been
periodic reform movements and irregular attempts at purifying the
monastic Order. Typically the Order gradually degenerates until a
charismatic leader starts a reform movement aimed at the proper practice
of the Buddhist path, including the Vinaya. These reform movement
sometimes manifest as “forest traditions,” whereby monastics establish
forest monasteries in conformity with the ideals of early Buddhism. Over
the last three decades, one controversial and ongoing reform has been
the reestablishment of an Order of nuns, bhikkhunīs, in the Theravāda

Another important component of the
monastic Vinaya is the vast commentarial literature that has gradually
evolved over the centuries and millennia, and continues to do so to the
present day. All three of the living Vinaya traditions have such a
commentarial literature.

The commentarial literature begins with
the Suttavibhaṅga, which, although it is now part of the Canon, is an
early commentary on the pātimokkha rules. Next we have other Canonical
commentaries or summaries, such as the Parivāra of the Theravādins.
Beyond these, we come to the commentaries proper, the atthakathās, “The
Discussion on Meaning.”

The most important non-canonical
commentary on the Theravādin Vinaya Piṭaka is the Samantapāsādikā,
composed in Sri Lanka by Buddhaghosa in the fifth century CE based on
pre-existing commentaries that probably originated in India. There is
also another important commentary from this period, the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇī,
also composed by Buddhaghosa. The next layer of commentaries are the
ṭīkās, the sub-commentaries, of which there are over a dozen, including
highly specialised literature, such as handbooks on monastery boundaries
(sīmās). Ṭīkās continue to be composed to the present day. The extent
to which the Canonical Vinaya needs to be interpreted in line with this
commentarial tradition is typically controversial, and practices vary

To navigate this vast literature, many Theravāda
monasteries rely on modern summaries for their practice of the Vinaya.
Examples include the Vinayamukha in Thai and Ajahn Ṭhānissaro’s The
Buddhist Monastic Code in English.

In addition to the above, most
Theravāda monasteries follow a number of rules that are more informal
in nature. These include rules used to distinguish individual sects
(nikāyas), such as rules on the style of robes and on the manner of
wearing them. Then there are rules that pertain to particular teacher
traditions, such as those that often form around especially charismatic
and famous teachers. The final set of rules are those laid down at
individual monasteries. These regulate the daily schedule and other
aspects of monastic life that are monastery specific. Although all these
rules are sometimes called Vinaya and therefore assumed to stem from
the Vinaya Piṭaka or at least the commentaries, in reality few of them
have any Canonical basis.
References and Further Reading

Clarke, Shayne; Vinaya Mātṛikā – Mother of the Monastic Codes, or just
Another Set of Lists?; Indo-Iranian Journal 47: 77–120, 2004
Clarke, Shayne; Vinayas; in Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Buddhism; Leiden, 2015; vol. I, pp. 60-87.
Frauwallner, Erich; The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of Buddhist Literature; Rome, 1956
v. Hinüber, Oskar; A Handbook of Pāli Literature; Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 2000
Kabilsingh, Chatsumarn (trans.); The Bhikkhunī Patimokkha of the Six Schools; Bangkok, 1991
Norman, K.R.; Pāli Literature; Otto Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden, 1983
Ñāṇatusita, Bhikkhu; A Translation and Analysis of the Pātimokkha; Kandy, 2008
Pachow, W; A Comparative Study of the Prātimokṣa; Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 2000
Sujato, Bhikkhu; Sects and Sectarianism; Santipada, 2012
Sujato, Bhikkhu; Bhikkhunī Vinaya Studies; Santipada, 2009

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…

Abhidhamma texts are systematic summaries and analyses of the teachings
drawn from the earlier discourses. The Abhidhamma (spelled abhidharma
in Sanskrit) is somewhat later than the Discourses and Vinaya.


Bhikkhu Sujato

The Books of the Theravāda Abhidhamma
The Books of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidhamma
The Dharmaguptaka Śāripūtrābhidharma
Abhidhamma in Buddhist Traditions

The Abhidhamma Piṭaka is the last of the three piṭakas (or “baskets”)
in the canons of the early Buddhist schools. It takes the terms and
ideas found in the Discourses, and organizes and analyzes them

There is a complete set of seven canonical
Abhidhamma books in Pali, belonging to the Theravāda school. In
addition, there is a complete set of seven (different) canonical texts
of the Sarvāstivāda school preserved in Chinese translation, a major
treatise of the Dharmaguptaka school in Chinese, and some smaller
Sanskrit portions. As is the case with the Discourses, the Pali texts
have received the most study and attention.

Unlike the Suttas and
Vinaya, the Abhidhamma texts of the different schools are not closely
related. It seems likely, in fact, that these were some of the formative
texts in establishing the different schools. Nevertheless, Erich
Frauwallner in his Studies in Abhidharma Literature and the Origins of
Buddhist Philosophical Systems (1996) has identified certain core
features of Abhidhamma that are common between the traditions. This
notably includes the Pali Vibhaṅga, the Sarvāstivāda Dharmaskandha, and
the Dharmaguptaka Śāripūtrābhidharmaśastra. These texts all include a
common core, which is ultimately derived from the Saṁyutta Nikāya.

Despite their differences, however, it would be a mistake to see the
canonical Abhidhamma texts as presenting strongly sectarian positions.
Apart from the polemical works such as the Kathāvatthu, for the most
part they focus on presenting the central ideas of the Dhamma in
different ways.

The word abhidhamma is found
occasionally in the early texts, usually alongside the parallel term
abhivinaya. There is, of course, no body of texts called the abhivinaya,
and these early uses of abhidhamma don’t refer to settled texts such as
exist today. Rather, in this kind of context the prefix abhi- is
comparable to the English “meta-” in the sense of “about the Dhamma,
about the Vinaya”, and refers to discussions and conversations about the
teachings. Such conversations would have, over time, been remembered
and shared, and evolved gradually into the formalistic treatises of the

The traditions vary in how they see the origin
of the Abhidhamma. The Chinese and Tibetan traditions typically ascribe
each Abhidhamma book to a disciple of the Buddha. However, certain of
the Vinaya accounts of the First Council include the Abhidhamma, and
thus assume that it was present at the time of the Buddha’s passing. The
Theravāda tradition also holds that the texts (with the exception of
the Kathāvatthu) were spoken by the Buddha. This is mentioned in the
late canononical Parivāra (sabba­sat­tuttamo sīho, piṭake tīṇi desayi,
Pvr 3#5) and the paracanonical Milindapañha (tepiṭakaṃ buddhavacanaṃ,
Mil 2#55), which both date from about three to four hundred years after
the Buddha passed away. The Theravādin commentaries were later to claim
that the Buddha taught the seven books of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka to the
deities in the Tāvatiṁsa heaven, headed by his mother. Venerable
Sāriputta subsequently learned them and conveyed them to his students.

The long-standing consensus among historical scholars is that the books
of the Abhidhamma were compiled in the centuries after the Buddha. It
is not possible to determine definite dates. However, it is likely that
the common core of the Vibhaṅga/Dharmaskandha/Śāripūtrābhidharmaśastra
predates the separation between these traditions, which happened around
the time of King Ashoka in about 250 BCE, less than two centuries after
the Buddha’s death. But the bulk of the content must have been developed
after this time. A number of details, such as the fact that the works
were accepted as canonical in the Milinda, around 100 BCE, suggests that
they were completed before this time. So a range of 300 BCE–100 BCE for
the composition of the canonical Abhidhamma texts seems reasonable.

While the belief that the books were composed by immediate students of
the Buddha is untenable, it does point to something in how they might
have developed. The major disciples would have established teaching
lineages, or styles of learning, that reflected the specialties of the
different masters. Over time, the explanations of various teachers
became systematized and codified. The actual books as they exist today,
however, are the products of schools, composed under the guidance of
leading monks.
The Books of the Theravāda Abhidhamma

For the
most part, the long and complex texts of the Theravāda Abhidhamma are
concerned with analyzing and classifying material, not with explaining
it. Presumably they would have been taught by experienced teachers in
monasteries, who would have drawn out, explained, and illustrated the
abstruse texts. Eventually such explanations were codified and recorded
in the Pali commentaries.

While they introduced a number of new
terms and methods, the canonical Abhidhamma texts are doctrinally
conservative. Many of the concepts familiar from later Abhidhamma are
not found—ultimate vs. conventional truth, mind moments, kalāpas, the
idea that each phenomena is defined by its sabhāva or indvidual essence.
While some new terms are found, for the most part they seem to have
been introduced in order to clarify and disambiguate the terminology,
and weren’t intended to convey specific new concepts. That is not to say
that there are no new ideas, just that they play a fairly minor role

The Dhammasaṅgaṇī (Enumeration of
Phenomena) is built on the idea of a mātikā, a list of contents or
matrix. A mātikā acts as a simple instance of a template that is applied
and transformed in ever more complex forms throughout the work. The
Dhammasaṅgaṇī mātikās list sets of phenomena (dhammas). Most of these
are doctrinal terms familiar from the suttas, although some are
specialized Abhidhamma terms. The Dhammasaṅgaṇī starts with three
mātikās. The first classifies dhammas into 22 sets of three (tika), and
the next two use sets of two (duka), 100 pairs for Abhidhamma terms, and
42 for Sutta terms.

The first of the triple sets is the
momentous group: wholesome, unwholesome, and undetermined. This serves
as a framework for classifying all the various phenomena. While it seems
simple enough, even this detail was controversial, as some schools
rejected the existence of the undetermined, or morally neutral,

The Vibhaṅga (Book of Analysis) consists
of 18 chapters arranged by topic. The list of topics is closely related
to the Saṁyutta Nikāya—aggregates, senses, dependent origination, etc.
Most of the chapters have a threefold structure.

according to the suttas: this quotes a key passage from the suttas on
the relevant topic and offers a modest analysis.
Analysis according to the Abhidhamma: applies the sets of synonyms and terms as developed in the Dhammasaṅgaṇī.
Catechism: tests the student’s knowledge with systematic questioning.

A few sections, such as Vb 18 Dhammahadaya, do not fit this system. They may have originated as independent treatises.

The Dhātukathā (Discussion of Elements) shows how the Dhammasaṅgaṇī
mātikās relate to the 5 aggregates, 12 bases and 18 elements. It is
organized according to fourteen methods.

Puggalapaññatti (Designation of Persons) departs from the strictly
phenomenological approach of most Abhidhamma texts to present a
compendium of passages relating to different kinds of individual. These
are set out in a mātikā that lists kinds of individuals numerically
organized from one to ten. As suggested by the numerical arrangement,
these terms are mostly derived from the Aṅguttara Nikāya, with modest
changes in wording. The main concern is to classify personal or
psychological tendencies as they relate to the development of the
Buddhist path.

The Kathāvatthu (Points of
Controversy) is a collection of over 200 discussions on points of
interpretation of Buddhist doctrine. These consist of a debate between
unnamed protagonists. Each relies either on logic or quotations from the
suttas to support their arguments. Some of the discussions concern
central problems in Buddhist philosophy, such as the nature of not-self,
or the problem of continuity and impermanence. Many, however, are very

While the text does not identify the points of view, most
of them may be identified with the doctrines held by various Buddhist
schools. Note that none of the controverted points deal with
Brahmanical, Jaina, or other non-Buddhist views. Nor are there any
significant differences in the suttas referred to; each debater assumes
that they share a common sutta basis.

The Kathāvatthu is the only
book of the Abhidhamma ascribed by the Theravāda to a specific author,
Moggaliputtatissa, a senior monk at the time of King Ashoka. The core of
the work probably formed then, but it grew substantially over time. One
or two of the core discussions appear to share a common basis with the

The Yamaka (Pairs) consists of ten
chapters on different topics, starting with the roots of wholesome or
unwholesome conduct. It applies a series of pairs of questions, with the
object of fully determining the scope of application of terms. For
example, are all instances of rūpa (form, physical phenomena) included
in the aggregate of form (rūpakkhandha)? No, because there are idiomatic
uses of rūpa such as evarūpa (“of such a sort”). But are all instances
of the aggregate of form included in rūpa? Yes.

Paṭṭhāna (Conditional Relations) sets out a simple mātikā listing 24
kinds of condition. The first is the “root condition” (hetupaccayo),
dealing with how acts are caused by the unwholesome roots of greed,
hate, and delusion, or their opposites. This mātikā is then applied to
the mātikās of Dhammasaṅgaṇī, creating a bewildering complexity of
possible combinations. The Paṭṭhāna is always heavily abbreviated, but
if it were to be fully spelled out, it would probably be the largest
book ever created, with many billions of combinations.

Dhammasaṅgaṇī and the Paṭṭhāna bookend the Abhidhamma collection, the
first dealing with phenomena, the latter with their relations. While
method and the details have expanded considerably, the approach can be
seen as a detailed application of the underlying principles of dependent
The Books of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidhamma

many, perhaps all, of the “eighteen” early schools would have had
Abhidhamma texts of some sort, none were as famous as the Sarvāstivāda.
The canonical texts mentioned here were supplemented or supplanted by
the massively influential treatise Mahāvibhāṣa, which established the
Sarvāstivāda as the Abhidhamma school par excellence. Even when later
works such as Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakoṣa or Nāgārjuna’s
Mūlamadhyamakakārikā critiqued the Sarvāstivādin philosophy, they were
still working with the framework of ideas and terms established by the
school, and based originally on these canonical texts. Accordingly,
while the Abhidhamma texts of most schools have disappeared, these texts
were taken to China and preserved there in translation. In addition,
there are some passages found in Sanskrit fragments and Tibetan texts.

The originals of all these Sarvāstivāda works were in Sanskrit.

Regarded as one of the earliest of the Abhidhamma books, this is
essentially a commentary on the Sarvāstivādin version of the Saṅgīti
Sutta (DN 33). It was composed by Mahākausthila (according to the
Sanskrit and Tibetan sources) or Śāriputra (according to the Chinese
sources). The Chinese recension was translated by Xuanzang.

As noted above, this text appears to share a common origin with the
Vibhaṅga of the Pali tradition. It is maintained today in a complete
Chinese and partial Sanskrit version. Compared to the Vibhaṅga, the
method appears to be less formalized and more discursive, quoting a
range of sutta passages. It was composed by Śāriputra (according to the
Sanskrit and Tibetan sources) or Maudgalyāyana (according to Chinese
sources). The Chinese edition was translated by Xuanzang.

This consists of a series of questions and answers on points of
doctrine based on a mātikā, supported by sutta quotes. It was said to be
composed by either Maudgalyāyana or Mahākatyāyana. The Chinese
translation is by Dharmarakṣita.

Composed by Purna
(according to Sanskrit and Tibetan sources), or Vasumitra (according to
Chinese sources). It was translated into Chinese by Xuanzang. The
Dhātukāya bears some similarity to the Pali Dhātukathā, although it uses
a different mātikā.

This is a counterpart of the
Pali Kathāvatthu, and may share a common historical basis. The text
mentions the Theravādin Moggaliputtatissa, author of the Kathāvatthu, as
an opponent in the debate on the key Sarvāstivāda doctrine that all
phenomena exist in the past, future, and present. The text discusses far
fewer points than the Kathāvatthu, however. It was composed by
Devasarman and translated into Chinese by Xuanzang.

Composed by Vasumitra, and translated by Xuanzang (T 1542), with
another partial translation by Gunabhadra and Bodhiyasa at T 1541. This
was a central Abhidharma treatise, which influenced even
non-Sarvāstivādin texts such as the Mahāprajñapāramītopadeśa.

Composed by Kātyāyanīputra and translated into Chinese by Xuanzang at T
1544. It also appears translated by Saṅghadeva and Zhu-fo-nian under
the name 阿毘曇八犍度論 at T 1543. The largest of the Sarvāstivādin Abhidhamma
books, this formed the basis for the later Sarvāstivāda treatises, and
hence the modern study of Abhidharma especially in Tibetan Buddhism.
The Dharmaguptaka Śāripūtrābhidharma

The only extant work of the Dharmaguptaka Abhidhamma, this was
translated into Chinese by Dharmayaśas and Dharmagupta. It shares some
content with the Vibhaṅga and Dharmaskandha, and other details with
other texts. Whereas the other schools maintained multiple Abhidhamma
texts, this single text covers much of the same ground, and seems to
contain the entire Abhidhamma system of the Dharmaguptakas.
Abhidhamma in Buddhist Traditions

Throughout the years, the study of Abhidhamma has been held in high
esteem by the Buddhist traditions. The Theravāda tradition developed a
series of commentaries and treatises explaining the ideas of the
Abhidhamma and extending them further. This is a living tradition, which
boasts an unbroken series of publications down to modern times. Today,
Abhidhamma study is specially emphasized in Burmese Buddhism, although
it remains active in all Theravāda regions. Tibetan Buddhism likewise
strongly emphasizes study of the Abhidharma, based mostly on
Sarvāstivādin sources. In all regions, however, contemporary Abhidhamma
study primarily relies on later treatises, and the canonical texts are
usually not directly studied in depth.

As well as study,
Abhidhamma has been a formative influence on several modern schools of
meditation. In particular, the Burmese meditation schools, including
Mahasi, Goenka, and Pa Auk, all rely closely on Abhidhamma concepts.

Perhaps unexpectedly, Abhidhamma is not restricted to monastic or
scholarly circles. It is frequently taught to or by lay people, and is
popular throughout Southeast Asia. In addition, Abhidhamma mātikās may
form the basis for ceremonial recitation. In Thailand, the Dhammasaṅgaṇī
tikamātikā and the 24 conditions of the Paṭṭhāna are used as funeral

The Abhidhamma itself is a critical system,
developed to clarify understanding of fundamental concepts and
relations. Underlying this project is the assumption that such
clarification is needed, which implies that not everyone understands
things the same way. This critical aspect comes to the fore in works
such as the Kathāvatthu, which showcases the rational methods of
clarifying doctrines.

Some, such as the historical Sautrāntikas,
criticized the Abhidhamma project itself, claiming it deviated from the
suttas. It is not clear whether all early schools actually had an
Abhidhamma Piṭaka. However, they all must have had some comparable works
of analysis and explanation.

Criticism of Abhidhamma was a
foundation of the Mahāyāna. Mahāyāna sutras criticize both specific
details of Abhidhamma doctrines—such as the notion that each phenomenon
is defined by its individual essence—and the overall direction of the
Abhidhamma schools, alleging that its followers waste time debating
trivia rather than understanding the profundity of the teaching.
Nevertheless, Mahāyāna texts developed their own forms of Abhidhamma,
and study of Abhidhamma is a core part of many Mahāyāna curricula to
this day.

Criticism is also found in the Theravāda commentaries,
which record challenges of the authenticity of the Abhidhamma. However,
most of the debate in the schools concerns the interpretation of
Abhidhamma, not the validity of the project itself.

This critical
tradition continues in the present day. Within the Tibetan Buddhist
education system, Abhidharma texts and concepts are studied, and
considered in light of the critiques by the Sautrāntikas and
Mahāyānists. And while some Theravādins maintain that it is essential to
study Abhidhamma, others claim that key Abhidhamma ideas depart from
the suttas, and that study of the Abhidhamma is unnecessary.

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the……/6747

Why we read
I read the Suttas for the Dhamma, the words and the teachings of the
historical Buddha and his monks and nuns. Reading these ancient and
sometimes complex Suttas is like mining for gold; with a bit of effort,
we can extract all of the wisdom and beauty of the Buddha’s pragmatic
and elegant teachings, all designed to lead us away from suffering and
onto a path of awakening.

Why we read: tell us why you read suttas

No teacher or book has been as helpful to me as exploring the suttas.
The more I read the suttas the clearer the path becomes. They give me
inspiration, motivation and joy. Much gratitude to the Sangha over time
for preserving them and to the modern translators to make them
accessible to us. :pray: (just another lay follower somewhere on dear
planet Earth)

Reading the suttas allowed me to get to
know the Buddha and appreciate the universal and timeless quality of
his teachings. Before reading the suttas I only understood the power of
the Dhamma and the Sangha. With the suttas I feel fully connected with
the triple-gem.
Pasanna, anagarika, Australian

When I
first became interested in Buddhism, I read a lot of meditation and
dhamma books. I knew I should go to the source and read from the suttas
but I thought “Ugh, this is going to be boring!”

I picked up the
Majjhima Nikaya on retreat and started reading and I couldn’t believe it
- I was immediately laughing and tearing up, nodding my head and
smiling with recognition - something about these words struck right to
the heart. I ended up finishing the whole book in a month. Since then,
the suttas have continued to be an invaluable source of wisdom,
inspiration and guidance, a true companion on this path.
Cara, Australia

Because they’re the roadmap to awakening.
James, United States

The fact that they are the primary sources for early Buddhist history
makes them indispensable. Ongoing familiarity with the Suttas helps
people engage critical thinking about Buddhism in general while they
continue studying related secondary sources & developing their

In the west we throw the word
“dharma” around as if it has a casual or ambiguous meaning. I read the
Suttas for the Dhamma, the words and the teachings of the historical
Buddha and his monks and nuns. Reading these ancient and sometimes
complex Suttas is like mining for gold; with a bit of effort, we can
extract all of the wisdom and beauty of the Buddha’s pragmatic and
elegant teachings, all designed to lead us away from suffering and onto a
path of awakening.

Michael, Anagarika and Attorney, Wisconsin, USA and Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I had meditated but wanted to get a better understanding of the core
teachings and psychology of the Buddha- reading the suttas were
immensely helpful for me in this. Matheesha, psychiatrist, UK

Reading Suttas is the only way to understand the teaching of the Buddha
and it is the only way someone serious about reaching Nibbana in this
very life, can do so.

Nimal, Vancouver, Canada.

When I first began to investigate Buddhist practice, it was through
sitting with groups which were locally available to me…the NKT, the
Order of Buddhist Contemplatives (Soto Zen), Samatha Trust and Amida
Pureland. Quite a mixed bag! At the same time, I would haunt ESangha
looking for voices (contributions), which seemed resonant with my
nascent ideas about what a Lay Buddhist practice might be, and how it
might be nurtured.
Most former interests and practices, fell away as a consequence. Not this…not this. :slight_smile:
I began to find an increasing sustenance in the sutta references which
were thrown up serendipitously on ESanga, by people I learned to see as
sincere and ardent practitioners. As a consequence, I printed the suttas
and filed away these hard copies for later reference. I’m not sure how
representative this miscellany of suttas are of the Dhamma, but I kept
them because they moved and inspired me when I read them.
They still do. Marie U.K.

I initially started reading the suttas after listening to some Dhamma
talks online. I had no interest in becoming a Buddhist, but was
certainly willing to listen to anything that made sense. However, such
is my orientation that I couldn’t go all that far with the talks without
knowing what they were based on.

I found the Sati­paṭṭhā­na
Sutta, wasn’t especially taken and thought “oh my, well that’s a whole
lot of charnel ground; what’s a charnel ground?” Somehow, between that
and perhaps the next ten suttas I read, an incredible, joyful love for
them arose and I’ve no idea how it happened. I can at least say it is
connected to the fact that the suttas offer the most accurate and
elegant description of my experience of life and the mechanisms that
appear to underpin it that I’ve come across. This, in turn, inspires a
gleeful hope that the prescription they contain is worth taking. Also,
some of them are excellently funny.

I’ve been
thinking about this, and can’t come up with a single, compact answer.
But I would say my interest in the suttas has evolved. Originally, by
main focus was probably on doctrine. But once my grasp of doctrine
matured, my aims in reading the suttas moved more and more toward

I also am interested in the suttas a pure history,
and see the suttas as clues in a mystery story - the mystery story of
ancient, pre-literate India and its complex spiritual, social and
philosophical culture. I feel a strong attraction to the figure of the
Buddha, but also find that figure enigmatic. I don’t think I really know
who he was, and what he was attempting to do. On the one hand, the
suttas seem to tell us a lot about the Buddha. But on the other hand,
what they tell us is filtered through many layers of transmission that
are obscure to us, an the Buddha is seen through a glass darkly.

Because no one other than the Buddha has said that to come to be is
misery and then taught a way to bring it to an end. I can’t remember
what joy or happiness feels like, but the suttas give me solace.

Sujith, India.

I first started reading the Suttas because I’d heard they were the
source of Buddhism and I wanted to get closer to the Buddha. I didn’t
find happiness in the Suttas straightaway. I read them out of faith. Out
of faith in my contemporary teachers and because I think I had some
“natural faith” in the Buddha conditioned into me somewhere along the
line. I read them even though I didn’t get them - at all. I just had
this faith that one day, it would make a difference that I perservered.

Sutta classes helped so much. To have amazing teachers teach directly
from Suttas, and encourage discussion and questioning, to go on the odd
Sutta Retreat when I could and to read what well practising scholars
have written; all these things made the most enormous difference to my
experiences with the Suttas. I would have floundered for a very long
time without all of these.

As time went on, I wanted to
understand the Buddha’s Dhamma better and became increasingly interested
in where this Teaching corresponded to what contemporary teachers said,
and where it didn’t.

But then I began to find delight in the
Suttas. When you begin to find delight in the Suttas, you begin to
suspect that you’ve stumbled upon a deeply delightful Path, one that
leads to greater understanding and peace.

At some point during
the last 20 odd years, I sort of, respectfully and rather seriously,
“fell in love” with the Buddha. So, really, I am still reading the
suttas to g

this is the next in a series of articles where I get you, our beloved
Discoursers, to help make SC better. 🙏 I’m wanting to include on our
Home page some testimonials or nice words by people as to why they read
the suttas. The idea is simply to communicate in a simple and friendly
way what …

SuttaCentral—a new beginning
We’re proud to share with you the new SuttaCentral. The team has been
working on it for over two years, and we think it’s something special.
The new site features an entirely new translation of the four Pali
nikāyas, prepared specially for SuttaCentral by Bhante Sujato. And the
whole site has been re-built to be faster, clearer, and more flexible.

SuttaCentral 2018

Welcome to the next generation of SuttaCentral! Our site has gone
through a lot of changes since our humble beginnings in 2005. Here’s
what’s new.

The new site features a new translation of the four
Pali nikāyas, prepared for SuttaCentral by Bhante Sujato. It’s a warm
and lucid text, with an emphasis on accuracy and clarity. We believe
it’s the first ever complete, consistent, and unified translation of the
four nikāyas in any European language. SuttaCentral is proud to make it
freely available without any copyright restrictions.

The sutta
translations are accompanied by an ongoing translation of the Pali
Vinaya by Bhante Brahmali. The classic Vinaya translation by I.B. Horner
has long been in need of an update. Bhante Brahmali’s new translation
is clear and accessible, and stems from his long experience not only
with Pali and the texts, but with living in a community that runs
according to the Vinaya. This new translation is being progressively
introduced to the site.

Both these new translations are being
implemented on a segmented basis. That means that each segment of the
Pali text is matched with the corresponding translation. This allows us
to display the original texts with translation segment by segment. It
also gives us a way of reliably and consistently referencing the Pali
text at a granular level, something that has never before been possible.
These segmented texts use a software called Pootle which is designed to
make translator’s jobs easier. They’re intended, not just as
stand-alone translations, but as the basis for a new generation of
translations into other languages.

We’ve also completely rebuilt the site. All the old features are still here, but there’s lots that’s new.

Open and inviting design, based on clear, considered, and familiar patterns.
Side menu offers more detailed and flexible navigation. For the
first time, our site navigation accurately reflects the traditional
hierarchical structure of the texts.
Descriptive summaries explain the texts and categories.
Parallels show the relationships between texts more clearly.
Thousands more parallels and connections.
We now support multiple translations in the same language.
The site is internationalized, so you can view it in a variety of languages. We’ll support more languages over time.
Cutting-edge Progressive Web App technologies make the site
available offline on supported systems. This is ideal for people out of
internet range, or who have limited data plans.
The translation
software is integrated with the site, making it not just a place for
presenting texts, but a publishing platform for translating suttas.

Early Buddhist texts and modern translations. Suttas (sutras) from the…

Index of Subjects

This is a modified version of the General Index of subjects from Access to Insight. We adapt this useful resource with gratitude. Changes include:

  • Removing all later texts and references, retaining only references directly to the early texts.
  • In
    a few cases, terminology and definitions have been changed, corrected,
    or deleted. However, the bulk of the content is identical.
  • HTML structure is modified.
  • Diacritical marks have added.
  • Links go to SuttaCentral.
  • In most cases, Access to Insight and SuttaCentral
    use the same reference conventions. However, in a few cases they
    differ; for example Sutta Nipāta is Sn in Access to Insight and Snp in
    SuttaCentral. In such cases the references have been changed to
    SuttaCentral’s system.

The caveat expressed by the author of the original index still apply:

is not an exhaustive index: not every text is indexed here, nor have I
included references to each and every occurrence of a given topic in the
texts. Nevertheless, I hope you find it helpful in steering you in the
right direction.

In addition, note the following:

  • References only include the Pali texts.
  • A tilde (~) stands for the head-word in a given entry.


determination, resolution
Four determinations: MN 140
drawbacks, dangers. See also Gradual instruction.
~ of feeling: MN 13
~ of form: MN 13
~ of sensuality: MN 13, MN 14, MN 54, SN 1.20, Iti 95
~ of clingable phenomena: SN 12.52
~ of aging, illness, and death: AN 3.62, AN 4.252
~ of supranormal powers: DN 11
~ of unskillful thoughts: MN 20
~ of unskillful conduct: AN 2.18
As one of ten perceptions: AN 10.60
See also Speech.
Making oneself easy to admonish: MN 21
The Buddha’s strong words to his son Rahula: MN 61
What to do if someone just won’t listen to reason: AN 4.111
See also Death; Divine messengers; Illness; four noble truths.
The Buddha spits on ~: SN 48.41
Description of ~: MN 9
Understanding of ~ as a basis for Right View: MN 9
“Aging” chapter 11 in Dhammapada (Dhp 146–156)
Effects of ~ on the body: Thig 13.1
How to train yourself when your body is old and decrepit: SN 22
You’re never too old to realize the Dhamma: Thig 5.8
Age is no measure of wisdom: SN 3.1
Advice to two aging brahmans: AN 3.51, AN 3.52
mindfulness of breathing
The Buddha’s principal teaching on ~: MN 118
How ~ leads to Awakening: SN 54.13
~ should be developed no matter how far along you are in your meditation practice: SN 54.8
As one of the ten Recollections: See Recollections, ten.
As one of the ten Perceptions: AN 10.60
As a method of subduing lust: SN 8.4
As a method of subduing annoying thoughts: Iti 85
Five qualities a practitioner of ~ should develop: AN 5.96, AN 5.97, AN 5.98
not-self. See also Tilakkhaṇa (three characteristics of existence)
Reflection on ~ as a basis for insight: SN 22.59
Identifying the five khandhas as “self” is the cause of affliction: SN 22.1
As one of seven perceptions: AN 7.46
As one of ten perceptions: AN 10.60
Relation of ~ to dependent origination: DN 15
Contemplation of the six senses in terms of ~: MN 148
Not understanding ~ is like being a dog tied to a post: SN 22.99
See also Conflict; Ill-will (vyāpāda); Kilesa (defilements); Khanti (patience); Mettā (love); Nīvaraṇa (hindrances); War.
As the only thing that’s good to kill: SN 1.71
What to do if someone is angry with you: SN 7.2, SN 11.4
What to do when ~ arises: Thag 6.12
The best response to ~ (a debate between two deities): SN 11.5
~ can carve into you like an inscription in stone: AN 3.130
~ can never be conquered with more ~: SN 11.4, Dhp 3
“Anger” chapter 17 in Dhammapada (Dhp 221–234)
The dangers of giving in to ~: AN 7.60
Impermanence. See also Tilakkhaṇa (three characteristics of existence)
As one of seven perceptions: AN 7.46
As one of ten perceptions: AN 10.60
Ponder ~ constantly: Thag 1.111
Contemplate ~ to overcome ignorance: Iti 85
Everything in the world is subject to disintegration: SN 35.82
underlying tendency
Seven ~: AN 7.11; AN 7.12
Three ~ in relationship to pleasant, painful, and neutral feeling: MN 44; MN 148; SN 36.6
With the end of the categories of objectification, the ~ come to an end: MN 18
See Recollections, ten.
path to deprivation
Advice to laity on how to avoid the ~: AN 8.54, DN 31
heedfulness, diligence
Defined: SN 35.97, SN 48.56
Difference between ~ and its opposite: SN 35.97
~ is the foremost skillful quality (ten similes): AN 10.15
As the one quality that can provide security: SN 3.17
What constitutes living with ~: SN 55.40
The Buddha’s last words: DN 16, SN 6.15
“Heedfulness” chapter 2 of Dhammapada (Dhp 21–32)
Benefits of ~: Iti 23
Wake up!: Snp 2.10
Appropriate attention
See Yoniso-manasikāra.
fully-awakened being. See also Buddha; Nibbāna.
Stock passage describing attainment of arahantship: AN 6.55
Stock passage describing the qualities of an ~: AN 6.55
Who can find fault in an ~? Ud 7.6
Why an ~ continues meditating: SN 16.5
Does an ~ feel pain? SN 1.38, SN 4.13
Does an ~ grieve? SN 21.2
An ~’s actions bear no kammic fruit, good or evil: AN 3.33, Dhp 39, Dhp 267, Dhp 412
What is the difference between an ~ and a Buddha? SN 22.58
What is the difference between an ~ and a “learner” (sekha)? SN 48.53
How to recognize if you’re an ~: SN 35.152
“Arahants” (Dhammapada chapter 7)
“Brahmans” (Dhammapada chapter 26)
Fate of ~ after death: MN 72, SN 22.85, SN 22.86
Nine unskillful acts an ~ is incapable of doing: AN 9.7
See Noble Eightfold Path.
See Four Noble Truths.
defilements, outflows, taints. See also Kilesa.
The Buddha’s principal teaching on ~: MN 2
Understanding of ~ as a basis for Right View: MN 9
Three ~: Iti 56, Iti 57
~ and right view: MN 117
Six important aspects of ~ to be understood: AN 6.63
Ascetic practices
Thirteen ~: Thag 16.7
The Buddha describes the ~ he practiced as a bodhisatta: MN 12
Which ascetic practices should be observed? AN 10.94
unattractiveness, loathsomeness. See also Body; Nibbidā; Sensuality.
Contemplation of ~ to maintain one’s resolve towards celibacy: SN 35.127
As one of seven beneficial reflections: AN 7.46
Mastery of ~ is a quality to be developed: MN 152
Unattractiveness of the body as one of ten perceptions: AN 10.60
The body as an unlanced boil: AN 9.15
Using contemplation of ~ to subdue lust: Iti 85.
Ven. Ānanda’s advice to Ven. Vaṅgīsa on overcoming lust: SN 8.4
Ven. Sister Subha plucks out an eye: Thig 14.1
See also Sensuality; Taṇhā (craving).
Does ~ to possessions really bring happiness? SN 4.8
~ to loved ones as a cause of sorrow: SN 42.11, AN 5.30, Ud 8.8
~ to the body as a cause of further pain: Snp 4.2
the eight precepts. See Precepts.
See Ill-will (vyāpāda).
ignorance. See also Kilesa (defilements); Paṭicca-samuppāda (dependent origination).
As a flood: SN 45.171
As a yoke: AN 4.10
As one of the fetters (Saṁyojana): AN 10.13
As one of the obsessions (Anusaya): AN 7.11, AN 7.12
As the cause of wrong view, wrong resolve, etc.: SN 45.1
What one thing must one abandon in order to overcome ~? SN 35.80
Understanding of ~ as a basis for Right View: MN 9
As an obstruction: Iti 14
See also Nibbāna; Vimutti (release).
Factors for ~: see Bojjhaṅga.
Is ~ “gradual” or “sudden”? Ud 5.5
See Sati.
Ayoniso manasikāra (inappropriate attention)
See also Yoniso manasikāra (appropriate attention).
What to do when the mind is being consumed by unskillful thoughts: SN 9.11

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